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Monday, December 9, 2019

Football

Gridiron Spotlight: Navy takes on Air Force


Houston and Navy face each other Nov. 30 at TDECU Stadium. | File photo

Houston and Navy face each other Nov. 30 at TDECU Stadium. | File photo

The Cougars and the Midshipmen won’t face off until the Houston’s regular-season finale Nov. 30 in TDECU Stadium, but Navy’s Saturday afternoon game against Air Force can have many implications for UH.

Navy, 2-1 overall and 1-1 in American Athletic Conference play, will defend its home turf in Annapolis, Maryland’s, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where it has gone 2-0 in 2019.

Sitting at 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the Mountain West Conference, the Falcons head north from Colorado Springs, Colorado, a year after they beat the Midshipmen there 35-7.

While Houston won’t play Navy for almost two months, the results from the Midshipmen’s game against the Falcons can affect the Cougars in many ways.

If Navy wins

The Midshipmen are going into the game with lower chances of winning than the Falcons, but a Navy win is not as improbable as it seems.

Both Air Force and Navy have been evenly matched so far in 2019.

The two teams average 34-plus points per game, and have similar total offensive yardage numbers on the season.

Navy averages 457.3 yards of total offense per game, while Air Force sits at 442.8 yards a game.

A Midshipmen win would keep Navy steady in the middle of the American West pack, where Houston sits last overall.

If Air Force wins

Air Force is the favorite, and the Falcons have history on their side.

Dating back to 1960, Air Force leads its all-time series against Navy 30-21, with its latest victory being the 2018 win in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Falcons have a better record in their last five games dating back to 2018 than the Midshipmen, going 4-1 compared to Navy’s 2-3.

Another Falcons win would put the Cougars in a better position to pass up the Midshipmen in the AAC standings should Houston beat Cincinnati in its Oct. 12 home matchup versus the Bearcats.

Keys for both

For Navy, its key to a win is its defense.

The Midshipmen rank No. 1 in the country in total defense, only letting up 754 yards through Week 5.

Navy ranks ahead of Wisconsin, Missouri and TCU.

Senior quarterback Malcom Perry has also been a big asset for Navy in 2019.

Although Perry is a quarterback, his ground game has carried the Midshipmen this season.

The Clarksville, Tennessee, native has rushed for 275 yards and seven touchdowns through three games, tying for 12th in the nation.

In the air, the senior has passed for three touchdowns and 336 yards.

Air Force’s strength also comes on the rush.

Six different rushers have scored touchdowns for the Falcons, including junior quarterback Donald Hammond III, who has five in 2019.

Its next leading scorer — junior running back Kadin Remsberg — has scored three touchdowns and leads the team in rushing yards with 342.

Whether Navy wins or loses, it will affect Houston in many ways.

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