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San Jose State vs. Navy football preview

Last year, San Jose State defeated Navy 27-24, and this year, SJSU travels to Navy, and the trajectories of the two teams have diverged quite a bit. We’ll see how in a moment, but first the basics.

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

<strong>WHEN:</strong> Saturday, September 29th at 12:30 p.m PST.
<strong>WHERE:</strong> Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD
<strong>TV:</strong> CBS Sports Network

And now, the numbers...

Navy 2012 Record: 1-2; wins versus VMI, losses @ Penn St and Notre Dame
SJSU All-time Record versus Navy: 1-0-0
Current Streak: SJSU W1
Best SJSU Streak: SJSU W1 (current)
Worst SJSU Streak: N/A
Last Meeting: 2011, SJSU 27-24

Coach: Navy’s coach is Ken Niumatalolo, who has a cumulative record of 32-23, but who had an uncharacteristically unsuccessful season last year at 5-7, and the Mids have stumbled a bit out of the box with only a win versus VMI to their credit thus far this season. The Mids will have quite a bit of work to do this season in order to attain bowl eligibility (and thus their "automatic" berth in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco), with remaining games at USAFA, at CMU, and at Troy, and remaining home games versus Indiana, FAU, and Texas State prior to their yearly matchup with Army in Philadelphia. While a loss to SJSU would not necessarily doom the Mids to bowl ineligibility, it would make their path to the postseason much more precarious.

When it comes to Navy offense, it’s all about the Triple Option. The Mids are 10th nationally in rushing yards, but 118th in passing. Thus far, it hasn’t worked out well for the Mids in terms of scoring, in that they are 110th nationwide in scoring, and it’s also given their defense much more work to do, leaving the Navy defense rated 84th.

For San Jose State, scoring has not been a problem. Through four games, the Spartans are averaging 35 points per game (37th in FBS), and are averaging 305 yards per game in passing (20th in FBS), to combine with 125 yards per game in rushing, which is 91st in FBS but still a drastic improvement for the Spartans in this area. Where SJSU will face its sternest test in this game will be in the run defense, in that last week’s game at San Diego State exposed some weaknesses in the SJSU run D, with the Spartans giving up 271 on the ground on 55 attempts.

Keys to the Game: There are two keys to this game…1) SJSU’s ability to defend the triple-option, an attack that they rarely see in the WAC; and 2) Whether or not Navy will be able to put sufficient pressure on SJSU QB David Fales to get him out of his rhythm. Last weekend, SDSU had Fales out of his rhythm for three quarters, but once Fales got his rhythm back the results were explosive for the Spartans, as he completed his last 10 passes of the game and led three 60+ yard TD drives, none of which lasted longer than 2:30 on the game clock.

Overall Outlook: Last year, both teams went into the matchup struggling a bit; SJSU had just had bowl eligibility ripped from them because of a late comeback by Utah State, and Navy needed to beat SJSU and win the following week against Army to gain bowl eligibility. This season, the trajectories of the two teams appear to be quite different, in that Navy is still struggling a bit, and SJSU is flying high after having ripped off three straight victories after holding Stanford to within a field goal. On paper, SJSU has all the tools to win the game convincingly, but SJSU has never won a game in the eastern time zone in six tries (most prior games were against foes like Bama and Da U, but still…), and the Naval Academy can still be an intimidating home field advantage if the Mids are playing well. With that said, SJSU should carry the day pretty easily.

Fearless Prediction: SJSU 35, Navy 20