Navy (2-3) at Central Michigan (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, October 12, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kelly/Shorts Stadium (30,255) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Navy 1-1, CMU 1-1. Away Record: Navy 1-1, CMU 1-2. Neutral Record: Navy 0-1, CMU 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, CMU 0-2. Series Record: Navy leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Navy Midshipmen make their first-ever trip to Mount Pleasant on Friday to take on the Central Michigan Chippewas at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
After a slow start to the season, Navy showed some life in last week's 28-21 overtime victory over Air Force in a service academy bout. The win gave the Midshipmen a 2-3 overall record as they approach midseason. Coach Ken Niumatalolo experienced his first losing season in 2011. Navy has a great shot to return to the bowl season as its second half schedule is much more favorable than the first half.
CMU dropped a 50-35 decision at Toledo last week for its second loss in a row. The Chippewas had high hopes after a 2-1 start which included a 32-31 victory on the road over the Iowa Hawkeyes. However, the top tier teams of the MAC (Northern Illinois and Toledo) combined to outscore CMU, 105-59, over the past two weeks. Coach Dan Enos, now in his third season with the Chippewas, has a career record of 8-21 entering Friday's matchup.
This will be the third meeting in history between these programs. Navy won both previous encounters, including the 38-37 thriller in 2010 in which CMU missed a two-point conversion with just four seconds left. Both the previous contests between these teams were played in Navy's backyard.
Navy has one of the worst scoring offenses in the country, ranking 112th out of 120 FBS teams with just 17.2 ppg. It bounced back from a 144-yard total in its shutout loss to San Jose State by gaining 359 yards last week against Air Force.
The Midshipmen are well known for their triple-option offensive attack which rarely uses the pass. Quarterback Trey Miller leads the team with 87 carries, 291 yards, and three touchdowns. Miller had a big-time performance last week against the Falcons with 110 yards on 18 carries.
Noah Copeland (62 carries, 279 yards) and Gee Gee Greene (34 carries, 253 yards, TD) share the load in the backfield.
Miller has attempted just 58 passes over four games and has not produced very much through the air, completing 34 of the attempts for 381 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Freshman Keenan Reynolds (10-of-13, 132 yards) has been seeing more snaps in recent weeks.
There aren't many balls to go around in the passing game. Shawn Lynch (149 yards), Casey Bolena (112 yards), and Brandon Turner (107 yards) all have eight catches, with Lynch hauling in the lone receiving score.
Despite picking up the victory last week, Navy allowed a season-high 507 yards to Air Force. The Falcons, who use a similar running offense to Navy, gained 374 yards on the ground in the contest. The Midshipmen are allowing 24 ppg to opponents this season, although their 50-point allowance to Notre Dame in the season opener dramatically alters that average.
CMU's offense has averaged 393.8 yards and 27.2 points per contest through its first five games. The leader of the offense is quarterback Ryan Radcliff, who is averaging 257.6 total yards per game. Radcliff threw for a season-best 337 yards in last week's loss to Toledo. The senior has thrown three more touchdowns (nine) than interceptions (six) this season. He surpassed the 8,000-yard plateau for his career in last week's defeat.
Junior running back Zurlon Tipton is the main threat in the Chippewas' offensive attack. He leads the team with 513 all-purpose yards and just passed 1,000-yard mark for his career. Tipton is averaging 8.4 points per game, which is tied for seventh in the MAC rankings.
Titus Davis and Cody Wilson are both viable threats in the passing attack. Wilson has tallied team-highs of 33 receptions and 394 yards and Davis comes in with 378 yards and four catches for scores. Wilson has made a catch in 34 consecutive games, which is tied for the third longest active streak in the nation.
CMU is a weak defensive squad with allowed averages of 457.6 yards and 40.8 points per game. The Chippewas are especially poor against the run, which was evident as NIU gained 407 yards on the ground against them two weeks ago. Justin Cherocci leads the team with 47 total tackles.
With CMU's clear inability to stop the run, Navy should have little trouble moving the ball. Radcliff needs to come out firing as he has in recent weeks to put pressure on the Midshipmen.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 28, Central Michigan 27
10/10 10:48:51 ET