Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-3, 0-1 American) vs Navy Midshipmen (1-3, 1-1 American)
Time and Date: 3:30PM ET, October 8
Broadcast Network: CBS Sports Network
Location: Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium - Annapolis, MD
ESPN FPI: Tulsa 66.9%
Line: Tulsa -4*
Point Total: 45.5*
All-Time Series: Navy lead the all-time series against Tulsa, 7-2
Last Meeting: Navy 20, Tulsa 17 - October 29, 2021
Current Streak: Navy, 1
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
The Midshipmen are anchored by their defense. Outside of giving up 37 points to a great Memphis offense, Navy have held their three other opponents to under 20 points. While Navy lost this past weekend to Air Force 13-10, their defense was superb. The Midshipmen stifled college football’s best rushing attack and limited the Falcons to 200 yards and caused three fumbles. For context, Air Force came into the game averaging over 450 yards on the ground. Furthermore, when opponents are inevitably forced to throw due to the run defense, Navy is putting pressure on the quarterback. After managing only 16 sacks in 12 games last season, Navy already has 12 sacks through four games.
Unfortunately, Navy isn’t winning more games because of their disjointed offense. While their offensive system has been consistent under Ken Niumatalolo, the head coach simply doesn’t have the same talent as years past. How bad is the situation in Annapolis? Navy has been held to 10 points or fewer in six of its last 13 home games and are currently the third worst scoring offense in the FBS.
If the Midshipmen are going to rebound to save their season, they couldn’t have picked a better opponent than Tulsa. Historically, Ken Niumatalolo has dominated the Golden Hurricane, who struggle to adapt to the triple-option offense. Navy have only lost once to Tulsa since Niumatalolo took over and it was during the 2020 season with no fans in the stands and numerous Navy players out due to COVID-19 protocols.
However, Phillip Montgomery is likely confident this meeting will be different. Montgomery got his QB Davis Brin back after he left the game against Ole Miss with injury. While Brin lost to the AAC favorites, Cincinnati, Brin crossed 5,000 career yards through the air and still found Keylon Stokes for six receptions and 106 yards.
While the headlines will always be about the Brin-Stokes connection through the air, Montgomery successfully implemented a new offensive scheme this past weekend. When Brin went out with the aforementioned injury against Ole Miss, backup QB Braylon Braxton flashed elite athleticism when he scrambled out of the pocket. Naturally, the offensive tactician Montgomery found a way to implement redzone QB-option and wildcat sets for Braxton. Against Cincinnati, that offensive set was responsible for all three of the Golden Hurricanes’ TDs. However, the QB-run offense may take a bye week against Navy’s top-ranked rush defense.
Tulsa’s main problem right now is the defense giving up too many chunk plays through the air. In every game against FBS competition, Tulsa have given up at least one TD pass of over 40 yards. Cincinnati found a way to capitalize on the issues in the secondary by throwing for a 61-yard TD. Fortunately for the Golden Hurricane, Navy rarely throws the football and struggles when opting to pass.
The X-factor in this game is the battle between Tulsa’s shaky offensive line and Navy’s stellar defensive unit. Tulsa’s QBs were sacked nine times this past week by Cincinnati. If the Golden Hurricanes’ offensive line can put up even a mediocre performance, Brin should have enough time to find Stokes for multiple scores. If Tulsa can score over 20, that might be enough that Navy can’t catch them. Based on what we have seen from both teams, it is hard to imagine Navy putting up enough points to beat Tulsa. Phillip Montgomery is going to get his second win over the Midshipmen, 24-14.