Navy (3-1) at Duke (3-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 12:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wallace Wade Stadium (33,941) -- Durham, North Carolina. Television: ACC Network. Home Record: Navy 2-0, Duke 2-2. Away Record: Navy 1-1, Duke 1-0. Neutral Record: Navy 0-0, Duke 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, Duke 0-2. Series Record: Navy leads, 20-14-5.
GAME NOTES: The Duke Blue Devils close their four-game homestand on Saturday afternoon when they play host to the Navy Midshipmen in a non-conference clash at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Navy is off to an impressive start, winning three of its first four games, and the team is attempting to go 4-1 for the first time since 2006. The Midshipmen most recently downed visiting Air Force last weekend, 28-10, in the first leg of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series, which they'll finish up against Army in the season finale on Dec. 14.
After beginning the season with triumphs over North Carolina Central (45-0) and Memphis (28-14), Duke squandered its momentum upon entering Atlantic Coast Conference action by losing at home to Georgia Tech (38-14) and Pittsburgh (58-55). Luckily, the Blue Devils were able to halt the slide on Sept. 28 in a 38-31 non-conference victory over Troy to pull back above .500.
This bouts marks the 40th all-time matchup between these two programs, with Navy clinging to a 20-14-5 advantage. Duke has claimed two straight decisions, however, including a 34-31 win in October of 2010.
The Navy offensive attack has run smoothly thus far, averaging 31.8 ppg and 403.5 ppg, and like the other military academies, it does the majority of its damage on the ground, ranking eighth in the nation with 294.0 rushing ypg.
Keenan Reynolds runs the show from under center, and call his own number more often than not. He is the team's leading rusher with 385 yards on 81 carries, plunging into the end zone seven times. He has also been effective in limited passing opportunities, going 20-of-31 for 378 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Chris Swain is the primary tailback, although it's taken him 45 carries to gain 140 yards (3.1 ypc). Darius Slaten, DeBrandon Sanders and Geoffrey Whiteside all average more than 10 yards per attempt on at least 10 carries.
Sanders leads the team in receiving yards with 98, doing so on just four receptions.
Navy's defense has been just as big a reason for its fast start. It allows less than 387 yards per contest and ranks 22nd in the nation yielding only 17.8 ppg.
Chris Johnson is a difference-maker defending the pass, logging three interceptions to along with 26 tackles, while Cody Peterson leads the team in stops with 36. Despite the unit's impressive play, it has difficulty getting after the quarterback with only three sacks.
The Blue Devils fit right into the high-scoring ACC, ranking fourth in the conference in both scoring (36.0 ppg) and yardage (451.6 ypg), and they are fresh off a 514-yard performance in their recent win over Troy.
After losing starting quarterback Anthony Boone just two games in with a broken collarbone, Brandon Connette has taken the reins and performed well. The junior has completed greater than 64 percent of his passes for 1,022 yards and 11 touchdowns, and has set a career high in passing yards in back-to-back games. Connette has been turnover prone however, guilty of six interceptions.
Connette is also one of the team's most feared rushers, turning 61 totes into 224 yards and six touchdowns. Jela Duncan (247 yards, two TDs) and Josh Snead (245 yards) split the majority of the work load in the effective ground game.
Jamison Crowder has followed up his 1,074-yard season in 2012 with another outstanding campaign in 2013, and he ranks top-20 in the nation in both receptions (37) and yards (530) while scoring a pair of touchdowns. He is also a dynamic punt returner with 289 return yards (19.3 yard average) and two scores.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, they do not have a defense strong enough to support their high-octane offense, as they rank 12th in the league in both scoring defense (28.2 ppg) and total defense (400.0 ypg) while forcing a modest six turnovers.
Jeremy Cash has been the unit's top playmaker with 51 tackles, 5.0 TFL, an interception and a forced fumble. Kenny Anunike has been active behind the line of scrimmage with 6.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks, while Jonathan Woodruff also has a pair of sacks.
Navy's defense has stood tall in the early going, but it's been able to pad its stats by beating up on some offenses no where near as talented as Duke's. The Midshipmen will have a chance in this one if they are able to control the clock with the ground game, but expect the Blue Devils to find a way to prevail at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Duke 34, Navy 31
10/09 11:11:05 ET