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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Football

Week 2 Gridiron Spotlight: Houston’s AAC West rivals faceoff


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Navy, Memphis and Houston have been rivals for the title of best team in the American Athletic Conference West Division for the past three seasons. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

Every week of the season, the Gridiron Spotlight will look at which scheduled game has the ability to impact UH the most.

This week’s most impactful non-UH game is the Midshipmen hosting the Tigers in Annapolis in an early season showdown between two teams that were expected to contend for the West division crown in the AAC.

Memphis will look to build off its opening week success, while Navy will look to right the ship, lest its season ends before it truly begins.

After the first week of the season, we have been able to glean slightly more information about each team going into such a pivotal early-season showdown.

In their first game of the season, the Midshipmen were beaten by the Hawaii 59-41. To exacerbate matters, Navy allowed Hawaii’s starting quarterback to throw 30-of-41 for over 400 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Rainbow Warriors had three different receivers catch for at least 90 yards and two touchdowns over the course of the game.

In Memphis, fans were treated to a good showing from junior quarterback Brady White and the team’s running backs. In only one half of action, White completed 22 of his 28 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns.

The Tigers also accumulated over 300 yards of rushing as it dominated the Mercer Bears.

The biggest concern for the Tigers is that the team fumbled the ball three times. That is something the team will need to correct if it wishes to compete against the tougher teams on the schedule.

Over the last three meetings, Memphis had no answer for Navy’s triple-option rushing attack. In 2015, the Midshipmen rushed for almost 400 yards in a 45-20 blowout of the Tigers.

In 2016, the story was much the same as Navy compiled almost 450 rushing yards in a resounding 42-28 victory over Memphis. Memphis finally broke through last season, as it beat Navy 30-27, but it took five turnovers by the Midshipmen to secure a victory for the Tigers. The issue for the Tigers is that the defense gave up over 300 rushing yards yet again.

When the Midshipmen host the Tigers this weekend, each team will take the field with the utmost confidence. The Tigers will be sure that it can throw the ball all over Navy’s porous secondary, while Navy will be supremely sure that it can run the ball at will on Memphis.

While Navy suffered a defeat to begin the season, the door to the AAC Championship game is still wide open when two division rivals face off in a game that will give UH plenty of insight into both teams.

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