2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 11 - Navy at SMU
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Nov. 12 Navy 24 … at SMU 17
(AP) DALLAS -- Ken Niumatalolo celebrated on the sideline more than some of his players did late in Saturday's game against SMU.
Navy's coach had good reason to be happy. The Midshipmen still have a shot to play in their ninth consecutive bowl game.
Quarterback Kriss Proctor rushed for 107 yards and John Howell scored the go-ahead touchdown to keep the Midshipmen -- who didn't complete a pass all game -- in bowl contention with a 24-17 victory over SMU.
After SMU got within 24-17 with 3:40 left, the Midshipmen ran out the clock with the help of Gee Gee Greene's 8-yard run on third-and-6. Greene went airborne on the play, which had Niumatalolo jumping up and down on the sideline.
Navy (4-6) is guaranteed a spot in the Military Bowl if it can beat San Jose State and Army.
"We continue to fight, scratch and claw," Niumatalolo said. "That's Navy football."
Navy rushed for 335 yards in what served as a preview of sorts if the two teams wind up in the Big East.
The Midshipmen also beat SMU in 2008 without attempting a pass.
On Saturday, Proctor only threw two passes and one of them was intercepted.
"I love it," Proctor joked. "I didn't complete a pass. I threw a pick. I guess that counts as a completion."
Zach Line rushed for 135 yards, his eighth 100-yard effort this season, and Cole Beasley scored two touchdowns, including a 2-yard run that got SMU within 24-17.
SMU (6-4) lost its third in four games, while Navy has won five straight against SMU and eight of nine overall.
"It's about discipline and turning the ball over," Beasley said. "We had some stupid penalties and turnovers."
The teams are connected by late coach Frank Gansz and have a trophy in his honor. After playing center and linebacker for Navy from 1957-59, Gansz coached for 38 seasons -- 24 in the NFL and 14 in college, including for Navy and SMU.
Navy's Alex Teich rushed for 90 yards and Greene added 67 yards on the ground.
SMU scored on its opening drive of the second half, tying the game 10-10 on J.J. McDermott's 7-yard touchdown pass to Beasley.
Navy responded on its next drive to take the lead for good. Howell finished off a 78-yard march with a 1-yard run, giving the Midshipmen a 17-10 advantage with 5:17 remaining in the third.
SMU had a chance to tie things late in the third when Chris Banjo recovered Matt Aiken's muffed punt at the Navy 25. The Mustangs couldn't take advantage of the miscue and didn't gain a first down on the ensuing possession as McDermott's fourth-down pass was knocked away.
After the failed fourth-down attempt, Mike Stukel's 5-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter gave Navy a 24-10 lead.
Navy's bid for a bowl appearance took a hit when it lost six in a row before beating Troy last weekend. The Midshipmen need six victories to play in the Military Bowl.
"That's this season's goal," Proctor said. "That's what it all boils down to."
Navy scored on its opening drive on Jon Teague's 39-yard field goal.
Chris Ferguson intercepted McDermott to set up Navy's first touchdown of the game. Greene capped a 56-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run to give Navy a 10-0 advantage.
SMU drove deep into Navy territory on their final two drives of the first half without scoring a touchdown.
David Sperry intercepted McDermott in the end zone with five minutes remaining in the second quarter.
After driving to the Navy 11, SMU's drive stalled and Chase Hover kicked a 28-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
Former President George W. Bush and wife Laura attended the game and participated in the pregame coin toss with captains from both teams.
Navy (3-6) at SMU (6-3) Nov. 12, 3:30, FSN
Here’s The Deal … Now that SMU has stopped the bleeding, it can spend the next three weekends improving its position for when bowl invitations are dispensed early next month. The Mustangs rebounded from nasty back-to-back losses versus Southern Miss and Tulsa with a much-needed rout of Tulane. The victory improved the program’s record in Dallas to 4-0, with a pair of games still remaining at Ford Stadium. With the West Division likely out of reach, the school will focus on achieving its first 10-win season in over a quarter-century.
Navy is coming off of a huge win of its own, handling Troy, 42-14, to snap a six-game losing skid that began on Sept. 17. The Midshipmen have been uncharacteristically ineffective this year under Ken Niumatalolo, falling four times by no more than a field goal. If the Academy is going to extend its program-record string of eight straight bowl games, it’ll have to sweep the remaining three games with SMU, San Jose State and Army.
Why Navy Might Win: When the Midshipmen got back to winning last week, they did so with a familiar script—running the ball out of the triple-option until the final gun sounds. The nation’s No. 3 ground game hammered the Trojans for five scores and 390 yards, getting at least 50 yards rushing out of five players. When QB Kriss Proctor, FB Alexander Teich and RB Gee Gee Greene get in on the act, tired legs are rarely a second-half problem. Although SMU has played very well against the run this season, allowing 106 yards a game, it’s not a stout bunch in the trenches that’s capable of standing up Navy, and consistently filling running lanes.
Why SMU Might Win: Navy’s single biggest problem this year has been the play of a defense, which is generating no pressure, and has struggled to stop the run. The Mustangs are going to counter with RB Zach Line, who runs with a similar north-south style as Teich. The nation’s eighth-ranked rusher will once again be the best player in the stadium, cranking out his eighth 100-yard game and a couple more touchdowns. Oh, and since this is still a June Jones production, SMU can still balance out the attack with the passing of J.J. McDermott to one of his preferred targets, Darius Johnson or Cole Beasley.
What To Watch Out For: The Mustangs need McDermott to build on last week’s three-touchdown, no-pick game in order to achieve the strong finish that they covet. The quarterback had been erratic prior to Tulane arriving in town, throwing 11 interceptions since replacing Kyle Padron in the lineup early in September. Injuries have robbed SMU of a safety net, leaving Jones with few other options outside of his former New Mexico State transfer. The circumstances are conducive to a positive game through the air, especially since Navy has only three picks and five sacks over the past six weeks.
What Will Happen: Navy looked like the Navy of old last Saturday. It’ll be fleeting, a product of playing a Troy team that’s in even worse shape these days. SMU will wear out the Midshipmen defense with a neatly crafted blend of Line’s running and the passing of McDermott. Line will be the game MVP, lowering his shoulder to extend drives, and bouncing off would-be tacklers for more yards. Not built to thrive in comeback, Navy will sputter in the second half, officially being eliminated from postseason contention for the first time since 2002.
CFN Prediction: SMU 35 … Navy 24
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