This game is going to mean a lot as the Air Force Falcons will travel to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 to play some collegiate football against the Navy Midshipmen. The Falcons are 1-0 and are coming off a 35-14 win over the Lafayette Leopards. Junior quarterback Haaziq Daniels finished the game going 3-of-5 for 50 yards through the air while running 19 times for 72 yards and three rushing touchdowns. The Midshipmen are 0-1 and are coming off a losing effort against the Marshall Thundering Herd 49-7. Junior quarterback Maasai Maynor led Navy in passing as he went 2-of-6 for 27 yards.
This game is going to be a very emotional start with the anniversary and what these programs represent but the football itself will be a fun matchup. Let’s take a deeper dive into Air Force and Navy to determine where we should be placing our bets.
Running the Ball is KeyThe Air Force Falcons are going to need to run the ball here and the guy who will lead the way is junior running back Brad Roberts. He had a good beginning to the season as he carried the ball 25 times for 111 yards (4.4 yards per carry). Looking at the last time these teams faced off last season, he had 11 carries for 83 yards so he has proven success. If Roberts can continue to run the ball and continue making the drive more manageable, it will really help the Air Force continue to possess the football.
The Air Force Falcons played a good defense in their season opener against the Lafayette Leopards as they allowed 14 points and dominated the time of possession as the Falcons had possession for 34:21. They were decent on third and fourth down defense as the Leopards went 6-for-13 on third down and 1-for-2 in fourth down. They did allow a decent amount of yards in the game as they gave up 286 total yards of offense (243 passing, 43 rushing) and only allowed 1.8 rushing yards per carry. If Air Force can figure out how to continue their solid defense, it will do wonders for their season.
Fullback Leading the WayThe Navy Midshipmen have a lot of rushing attacks in their game plan and they are being led by senior fullback James Harris II. He finished the opener against Marshall by running the ball 11 times for 80 yards (7.3 yards per carry) but did not find the endzone there. This offense is built to run the ball effectively and Harris showed that is possible this season. If he can continue to plow through defenders and put up good blocks without the ball, it will really help the Midshipmen move the chains.
The Navy Midshipmen struggled defensively last week against the Marshall Thundering Herd as they allowed 49 points and the Thundering Herd went 5-for-8 on third downs. They also gave up 464 total yards (363 passing, 101 rushing) but their rushing defense was easily what they could hang their hat on. They weren’t great but they did give up 3.4 rushing yards per carry throughout the game. Their biggest thing was forcing three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble recovery) and if they can force a few more turnovers here, they will be in a great spot.
- Navy: 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games
- Navy: 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games in September
- Air Force: 14-3 ATS in their last 17 games following a win of 20+ points
- Air Force: 21-8 ATS in their last 29 games vs non-conference opponents