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Tulane Green Wave at Navy Midshipmen: Preview, Betting Line, TV, Predictions

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This is the first meeting between these two teams since 2005. A lot has changed since then. Well, not really. Tulane is still awful. But Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds goes for an NCAA record. Will he get it? Let's find out.

This photo is from 2003, two years prior to the team's last meeting.
This photo is from 2003, two years prior to the team's last meeting.
U.S. Navy/Getty Images
Tulane Green Wave at Navy Midshipmen

Location: Navy Marine-Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, Md.)

Time: 11 a.m. CDT

TV: CBS Sports Network

Betting Line: Navy -23

Records: Tulane 2-4 (1-2); Navy 4-1 (2-0)

All-Time Series: Tulane leads (!?) 11-7-1

Last Meeting: Navy 49, Tulane 21 (Nov. 5, 2005)

Preview

Scouting Tulane (Tyler Mayforth)

So far this season Tulane has proven two things: it lacks discipline and struggles to stop the run.

Exhibit A: In a 42-7 loss to Houston last Friday, the Green Wave committed more penalties (12) than it had first downs (11). Tulane drew four — count them, four — unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and one for roughing the passer.

"It's a natural part of the game (aggression), but we have to stop it," Green Wave coach Curtis Johnson said at his weekly press luncheon.  "We have to take our anger and frustration and channel it into playing well."

Exhibit B: Opponents have run for an average of 177.3 yards per game against Tulane. That puts the Green Wave 81st nationally in that category. Don't forget that average dropped a lot after Tulane beat up a hapless UCF team and limited the Knights to minus-35 rushing yards.

This week the Green Wave faces Navy, a team that takes advantage of two weakness: an opponent's lack of discipline and an inability to stop the run.

Oh, boy. This could get ugly.

If there is anything in Tulane's favor, it's that Johnson's team has already seen an option offense this season. Granted, the Green Wave was blown out by Georgia Tech 65-10 and allowed 439 rushing yards — but still.

That should help, right? Maybe not.

Even though the Midshipmen and Yellow Jackets run the same style of offense, it's not identical.

"Here’s the difference: Georgia Tech, formationally, isn’t as dynamic as Navy," Johnson said. "Navy gets in all of the formations. They get a lot of different personnel groups. They get a lot more unbalanced sets. They do a lot more in general. It’s a little bit of a different option. Georgia Tech is a little bit bigger, and probably as athletic, but Navy just poses a lot of match-up problems."

One of the biggest issues Tulane had last week against the Cougars was containing Greg Ward Jr. While Ward is an incredible athlete in his own right, he's no Keenan Reynolds. The only way opponents have been able to slow down Reynolds is to unfortunately go at his knees (see Notre Dame this year and Temple last year).

The best defense against the Midshipmen is to control the pace of the game and keep your own offense on the field. The Green Wave is doomed in that regard, since it has one of the worst offenses in nation in total yards (123rd) and third-down conversions (122nd).

Scouting Navy (Justin Mears)

Navy enters this weekend’s contest against Tulane coming off a much needed bye week following their first loss of the season two weeks ago at Notre Dame. Navy entered their game against Notre Dame with only one turnover on the season. However, Navy would give up two fumbles on their own side of the field that would prove too much to overcome as they were downed by the Fighting Irish 41-24 in South Bend.

The Midshipmen appear ready to get back on the gridiron and get the bad taste out of their mouths, but they certainly needed the bye week to get healthy, especially at the quarterback position. Starting quarterback Keenan Reynolds went down in the first half against Notre Dame with a lower leg injury and was held out of most of the second half as a precaution. Reynolds says the leg is feeling great and he will be ready to go full speed on Saturday against the Green Wave.

On offense, Navy will look to find a way to get Reynolds back into the endzone. Although Reynolds could care less who scores as long as the team is putting points on the board, watching No. 19 dart across the goal line usually means good things are happening for the Midshipmen.

The Reynolds Watch continues for the all-time rushing TD record as he remains four behind Montee Ball who rushed for 77 touchdowns during his career at Wisconsin. Reynolds has not had a rushing touchdown in two consecutive games, the first time in his career that has happened with him as the starter.

As a whole the Navy offense will look to rebound and recover from its abnormal turnovers and penalties that hampered its efficiency the last time out. Look for the Mids to establish fullbacks Chris Swain and Quentin Ezell early and create opportunities for Reynolds to orchestrate the triple-option offense with the precision that Navy fans are accustomed too.

On defense, the Midshipmen will look to continue to show that they are an underrated group, even after giving up almost 460 yards of total offense to Notre Dame. They face a Tulane offense that has been hampered by injuries of late.

The defense continues to be one of the best units in the country at limiting explosive plays. They also continue to make significant improvements in their ability to get pressure on the quarterback. Five games into this season, they have recorded nine sacks after only getting eight all of last year.

A critical area for the Navy defense in this game will be third downs. Look for the Midshipmen to try and get pressure on the quarterback early and often.  Getting off the field on third down and adding a possession or two for the offense is critical, especially given how efficient the Navy offense has been in the first halves of games this season.

An added area of emphasis this week for the Midshipmen is in the return game. After fumbling multiple times on kickoff and punt returns this year but recovering them all, their luck finally ran out against Notre Dame as Dishan Romine fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half. Romine is the fastest guy on the team and is doing a great job overall for the Midshipmen averaging over 30 yards per return, but the ability of the return guys as a whole to hold onto the ball continues to be a concern moving forward.

Predictions

Tyler Mayforth says: Navy 45, Tulane 7.

Justin Mears says: Navy 38, Tulane 21.