NAVY MIDSHIPMEN (2-3)
at CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAS (2-3)
Kickoff: Friday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Central Michigan -1½, Total: 59
Navy seeks it third win in four games when it visits a Central Michigan team eager to snap a two-game losing skid on Friday night.
Navy has won both all-time meetings with CMU, rolling 63-34 in 2003 and prevailing 38-37 in 2010. The Midshipmen have been held to 10 points or less three times this year, but were able to win at Air Force 28-21 last week despite allowing 363 rushing yards. They had a positive turnover margin (+3) for the first time all season. The Chippewas won at 14-point favorite Iowa three weeks ago, but have since surrendered 50+ points in each of the past two games, SU/ATS road defeats to Northern Illinois and Toledo.
Can Central Michigan end its losing skid on Friday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Navy is usually a great running game with its triple-option offense, and this year is no exception with 232 rushing YPG (15th in nation). This is mainly a three-person attack with QB Trey Miller (291 yards, 3 TD) and RBs Noah Copeland (279 yards, 1 TD) and Gee Gee Greene (253 yards, 1 TD). Miller hurt his left ankle in the fourth quarter of last week's overtime win over Air Force, but is expected to start on Friday. If he can't go, the Midshipmen feel comfortable with backup QB Keenan Reynolds, who did a nice job leading his team against the Falcons, completing all three of his passes for 55 yards and rushing for 22 yards and a touchdown. Navy has really hurt itself with turnovers this season, committing 12 in the first four weeks of the season, but was turnover-free in last week's victory. Navy's defense did a nice job forcing three Air Force miscues last week, but it also gave up 507 total yards. The Midshipmen defend the pass (197 YPG, 30th in FBS) much better than the run (193 YPG, 96th in nation).
Chippewas QB Ryan Radcliff had a monster game when he last faced Navy two years ago, completing 36-of-58 passes for 394 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT. Cody Wilson caught 13 of those passes for 126 yards and a touchdown in that 38-37 defeat. Radcliff has increased his passing yards in each of his five contests this year, throwing for 952 yards, 8 TD and 3 INT in the past three weeks. Wilson has not yet scored a touchdown, but he does lead the team in both receptions (33) and receiving yards (394). WR Titus Davis (378 receiving yards) has been the touchdown maker with four of his 19 catches occurring in the end zone. CMU prefers to throw the football (257 passing YPG), but it has a capable running game (4.4 yards per carry) led by Zurlon Tipton, who has 447 rushing yards (6.2 YPC) and 6 TD this year. However, he has been held under 75 rushing yards in each of his past four contests. CMU's defense had all sorts of trouble stopping the triple-option two years ago, allowing Navy to gain 437 rushing yards on 52 carries (8.4 YPC) and five touchdowns. Considering the rushing defense currently ranks 114th in the nation (233 YPG), it could be another frustrating evening for the Chippewas. Another big weakness for the Central Michigan defense is pressuring the quarterback. The team has averaged just one sack per game (104th in nation) and 4.2 Tackles For Loss per game (111th in FBS).