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Houston vs. Navy: Preview & Prediction

Houston wants to break open the division. Navy wants to stay alive.

NCAA Football: Houston at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, October 20

Time: 3:30 ET/2:30 CT

Location: Annapolis, Maryland

Broadcast: CBSSN

Spread: Houston -11.5

Last Matchup: Nov. 24th, 2017; Houston 24, Navy 14

All-Time H2H Record: Houston leads 3-1

Houston Outlook: Fresh off a 42-20 win in East Carolina, the Cougars look to keep their momentum going with an always important division win against the Navy. You can’t ask for much more than a 5-1 start, except being 6-0. Time machines don’t exist though.

The statistics seem to point in their favor for the Coogs in this one. Through the first half of the season, Houston offensively leads the American in both average points per game and passing yards per game.

The trio of Marquez Stevenson, Keith Corbin, and Courtney Lark has been a major piece of their 5-1 first half record. All three of them are in the Top 15 for receiving yards in the American this season, and Corbin and Stevenson are tied for second with six reception touchdowns a piece.

Tight end Romello Brooker also has three touchdowns this year, which gives him a co-lead for tight ends in the conference.

D’Eriq King has now accumulated over 1,500 yards through the air this season with 20 touchdowns while having only thrown three interceptions. The Midshipmen have given up 7.5 yards per passing attempt this year and are dead last in the American in sacks, so it wouldn’t be far fetched if the offense puts up impressive numbers this week.

The run defense is going to be tested this week. The front seven have done their job this year, holding offenses to an average of 2.8 yards per carry. However, the pass defense has not looked impressive this year, giving up just under 360 yards a game.

Navy boasts one of the heaviest running games in the country with the triple option, and they run it well. It’ll be interesting to see how impact players such as Ed Oliver and senior linebacker Austin Robinson will be able to disrupt Navy’s gameplan.

Navy Outlook: Nobody likes losing; It’s a momentum killer. Three straight losses though? That’s tough to want to keep going. The stats don’t lie, and it’s not in their favor, but actual performance will outdo the pregame comparisons every time. Stay positive Navy fans, bowl eligibility isn’t out of reach yet.

The Midshipmen love to run the ball, but everyone knows that. Averaging 303 yards a game and having the fourth highest rushing yard total in the country is definitely a great edge to have.

Quarterback Malcolm Perry is fourth in the conference in rushing yards with 632, and he’s going to be leaned on heavily throughout this one. Houston has a very respectable rushing defense, and they’ve proven in the past that they can hold the triple option well enough to win the game.

Navy may need to go to the air more than they like to if they want to keep up in this game. They don’t like to throw the ball too much, but tight end CJ Williams and wide receiver Taylor Jackson seem to be the main two targets. Considering the Cougars also give up 7.5 yards an attempt, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see some shots taken.

Defensively, they’re going to have a lot to handle. 55th in the country in total defensive yards (2368) against an offense putting up the 12th most offensive yards (3317) isn’t ideal. Cornerback Jarid Ryan does look to be a gleam of light for the crew in navy blue, as he has a conference leading 3 interceptions this season.

Prediction: Navy runs the ball too much for their own good. The Midshipmen will find early successes on the ground before adjustments can be made, but it won’t last forever.

While the first half may be close, Houston should be able to defensively stiffen up in the fourth quarter and break the score open few big plays. This will probably be one of those games that was a lot closer than the final score signifies.

Houston 48, Navy 24