Navy (4-6) at San Jose State (3-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 19th, 4:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Spartan Stadium (30,456) -- San Jose, California. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Navy 2-3, SJSU 2-2. Away Record: Navy 2-3, SJSU 1-5. Neutral Record: Navy 0-0, SJSU 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, SJSU 2-4. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The final home game of the season is on tap for the San Jose State Spartans this weekend as they break from Western Athletic Conference play to welcome the Navy Midshipmen to Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans, who will close out the season on the road at Fresno State next weekend, are in jeopardy of posting their fourth straight loss on Saturday. Last weekend, the team lost yet another close call with a 34-33 setback versus Utah State on the road. At this point, SJSU is four games under .500 overall and just 2-4 in conference.
For the Midshipmen, they've won a total of four games this season and have just two to play, with the huge meeting with Army still on the calendar for December 10. Last week, the team registered a 24-17 win over the SMU Mustangs on the road, the second victory in as many games for Navy which had been dealing with a six-game slide heading into the month of November.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two institutions on the gridiron.
Gee Gee Greene, John Howell and Mike Stukel also scored rushing touchdowns for the Midshipmen last week, the latter proving to be the game winner early in the fourth quarter. Now ranked second in the nation in rushing with an average of 319.7 ypg, Navy erupted for 335 yards on 64 attempts, with Kriss Proctor doing more of the damage with 107 yards on 17 attempts and Alexander Teich contributing another 90 yards on 21 carries for the academy. As everyone knows, Navy runs the ball almost exclusively these days, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt and scoring a total of 28 touchdowns thanks in large part to Proctor who has hit the end zone 10 times. The quarterback doesn't throw for many yards obviously, but the fact that he has seven TD passes means defenses still have to be on their toes.
Against an SMU team that not too long ago defeated TCU in overtime, the Midshipmen pushed all the right buttons on defense as they held the Mustangs to 386 total yards and just under six yards per snap. SMU was limited to just 3:34 of ball possession in the first quarter and was held scoreless in that period, allowing the Midshipmen to generate some momentum moving forward. In three of the last four outings the Navy defense has managed to produce six tackles for loss, and while that might not sound like a huge accomplishment, it is for a group of Mids who ranked 114th in the nation this week with just four TFLs per game. Coming up with sacks is like pulling teeth with this group as they average just one per outing, ranking them 113th nationally entering play this week.
In the last few weeks, the San Jose State offense has finally been able to get on track, but wins have still been hard to come by, which was the case last week in the one-point loss to Utah State at Romney Stadium. Quarterback Matt Faulkner connected on 27-of-49 passes for 340 yards and one score, and Brandon Rutley ran for another, but it was kicker Jens Alvernik who really made things interesting with his four successful field goals. Rutley has had his moments this season coming out of the backfield, but for the most part the SJSU rushing attack has been less-than-explosive with just 104.1 ypg, which ranks the squad seventh in the league and 108th in the nation. Faulkner has been putting up some strong yardage totals (271.2 ypg) while connecting on 63.7 percent of his passes, but he still has more INTs (11) than TDs (10) heading into the weekend.
After outscoring the Aggies by a 20-7 margin in the first half, the defense for the Spartans got very lax as it permitted the hosts to generate 27 points in the final 25 minutes to capture the narrow win. Not only did SJSU permit 255 yards and two touchdowns through the air, the Spartans also watched as Utah State runners generated another 286 yards and three TDs on the ground. The again, the run defense hasn't been all that special for the Spartans this season, giving up 202.5 ypg to rank seventh in the WAC and 103rd in the nation. Getting pressure up the field has not been a strong suit of SJSU whatsoever with the squad ranked 102nd in the nation in sacks per game (1.30), and tied for 109th with a mere 4.3 tackles for loss per outing.
With Navy keeping the ball on the ground it will probably keep it out of the hands of the Spartans for much of the game. But, if the Midshipmen fall flat while trying to prevent the pass, it could all be academic.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Jose State 24, Navy 17
11/16 10:38:20 ET