FACTS & STATS: Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (30,000) — Annapolis,
Maryland. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: GSU 4-0, Navy 2-2. Away Record: GSU
4-2, Navy 2-1. Neutral Record: GSU 0-0, Navy 0-2. Conference Record: GSU 7-0,
Navy 0-0. Series Record: Navy leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Georgia Southern Eagles take a break from their highly-
successful Sun Belt Conference schedule this week and travel to Maryland where
they will clash with the Navy Midshipmen.
Georgia Southern, despite playing in the Sun Belt, is one of the hottest teams
in college football at the moment as it enjoys a seven-game win streak.
Considering the Eagles have just two defeats on the campaign overall, coming
against NC State and Georgia Tech by a combined five points, this is a team
that deserves to be recognized.
Although, the Eagles nearly had their run of success brought to a halt on Nov.
8 when they barely slipped by Texas State, 28-25, on the road. Still, GSU is
all alone atop the league standings with an unblemished 7-0 mark, and has just
one more game on the schedule following this weekend’s bout.
As for the Midshipmen, they’ve had a bit too much time to think about what
could have been following their 49-39 loss to nationally-ranked Notre Dame at
home back on Nov. 1. The defeat snapped a brief two-game win streak by the
Academy and dropped Navy a game under .500 with just three games to play.
The Midshipmen won the only previous meeting between the programs by a score
of 13-7 in Annapolis back in 2010.
This particular matchup features the top two rushing teams in the country,
with Georgia Southern leading the way at 385.5 ypg, although the team is still
in a transitional phase and reclassifying toward FBS status. Navy is cranking
out 350.4 ypg and has scored 30 touchdowns on the ground.
The GSU rushing attack was slowed considerably by Texas State last weekend,
producing just 227 net yards on 40 attempts, although the Eagles did reach the
end zone three times on the ground. With a mere 41 passing yards, it is not
surprising to see that Georgia Southern was limited to only nine first
downs, compared to 26 for the Bobcats.
Kevin Ellison hit six of his nine pass attempts, with his longest completion
going for 13 yards, while his 62 net rushing yards were second only to Matt
Breida who finished with 120 yards and two TDs in the close call.
On the final play of the third quarter, safety Matt Dobson made a major
statement for the Eagles as he picked off a pass in the end zone and returned
it for a school-record 102 yards and a TD to put the visitors up by a score of
28-10. Dobson now has three picks on the campaign, as well as a forced fumble
while placing fourth in overall tackles with 53.
Edwin Jackson is first on the GSU tackles list with 82, of which four have
come behind the line of scrimmage, while Antwione Williams is second with 57
stops and is first with seven TFL and second with three sacks for a group that
is holding opponents to just 21.3 ppg, about half of the 42.8 ppg that the
Eagles are producing themselves.
Breida, who is averaging 122.4 ypg on the ground, is one of three runners with
double-digit TDs as he boasts 14 trips to the end zone. Ellison (11) and LA
Ramsby (10) are also key producers in a rushing offense that has scored a
staggering 49 touchdowns.
With just 107.7 ypg through the air and a total of seven aerial scores, the
Georgia Southern passing attack is one that Navy can certainly relate to since
the Midshipmen are ranked 123rd in the nation with just 94.6 ypg passing
Against the Fighting Irish a few weeks back, Navy actually held a three-point
lead early in the fourth quarter before surrendering three touchdowns in the
period and eventually suffering the double-digit setback. Quarterback Keenan
Reynolds tried to give the Academy a fighting chance as he posted a pair of
passing TDs on just six completed passes, but it just wasn’t enough against
the national powerhouse.
Navy did come up with 336 yards and three TDs on the ground, but that too was
just short of what the squad needed in order to survive.
Defensively, the Midshipmen surrendered a lofty 533 yards on just 64 snaps,
but still there were some tremendous performances by individual players,
particularly Bernard Sarra who not only accounted for half a sack, he was also
credited with a pair of blocked field goals. Sarra, who has made just 20 stops
in nine games, has accounted for all three of the unit’s blocked kicks this
As stated previously, Navy is first in the FBS in rushing thanks to the
efforts of Noah Copeland (740 yards, three TDs) and Reynolds (686 yards, 11
TDs) for the most part. The group is averaging an impressive 6.2 yards per
attempt and is just shy of doubling the efforts of opponents on the ground
(176.1 ypg) through nine outings.
While he is still far from a star performer as a passing quarterback, Reynolds
has at least forced defenses to recognize the potential for the Midshipmen to
attack from overhead. The signal caller now has four passing scores, the team
a total of seven thanks to the effort of Tago Smith who has stepped in during
times of need.
Don’t be surprised if this game features only a handful of pass plays as each
side instead tries to dictate the tempo and maintain lengthy possessions by
keeping the ball on the ground. Navy might just get a taste of its own
medicine if all goes according to plan for the Eagles.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Southern 31, Navy 27