FACTS & STATS: Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000) — Annapolis,
Maryland. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Rutgers 1-1, Navy 0-0. Away Record:
Rutgers 1-0, Navy 2-0. Neutral Record: Rutgers 0-0, Navy 0-1. Conference
Record: Rutgers 0-1, Navy 0-0. Series Record: Rutgers leads, 12-11-1.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a heartbreaking loss to conference rival Penn State,
the Rutgers Scarlet Knights will hit the road for the first time since college
football’s opening weekend, this time to take on the Navy Midshipmen in a non-
conference bout at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights, who made the move to the Big Ten Conference before the
start of this season, opened with two consecutive victories over Washington
State and Howard, respectively. Rutgers played at home in front of a raucous
crowd this past weekend, and led Penn State for a majority of the game. But
the Knights ultimately fell, 13-10.
Navy, on the other hand, opened the season in Baltimore against the Ohio State
Buckeyes, who had just lost quarterback Braxton Miller for the season. The
Midshipmen were downed, 34-17, but have rebounded to take the next two
contests against Temple and Texas State, respectively. Navy has scored at
least 31 points in each of its last two games.
The all-time series between these two sides has been pretty even, with Rutgers
holding a slim 12-11-1 lead. The history of this series dates all the way back
to 1891, when Navy defeated Rutgers in the first meeting, 21-12. They haven’t
clashed on the field since the 2011 season.
Rutgers held a 10-6 advantage against Penn State until there was just over a
minute to play. The Nittany Lions, however, used a five-yard touchdown run to
go ahead of the home Knights for the 13-10 win, handing Rutgers its first loss
of the season. Although the excitement from the crowd was at an extremely high
level throughout the game, the offensive display by the Scarlet Knights was
anything but great.
Quarterback Gary Nova completed 15-of-30 pass attempts for 192 yards and an
absolutely dismal five interceptions. He was sacked three times by the Penn
State defense, which also held the Rutgers rushing attack in check. Paul James
led the Knights with 51 yards on 14 carries. Nova had the only touchdown of
the game for Rutgers on a 14-yard rush. As a unit, Rutgers managed just 102
net yards in the contest, and now average 142 rushing ypg (with a 3.8 ypc
Leonte Carroo and Tyler Kroft caught 10 of Nova’s 15 completed passes, with
Carroo leading the team by hauling in 84 yards – just shy of half Kroft’s
total of 45 yards. Carroo is the only Scarlet Knights player this season to
have double-digit receptions through three games. The junior has brought in 14
pass catches with two touchdowns through three weeks.
On the other side, it was a relatively strong effort on the defensive end of
the football Saturday. The Scarlet Knights registered five sacks of Penn State
starter Christian Hackenberg, and intercepted a late-game pass (though Nova
gave it away on the very next play by throwing an interception of his own). In
three games, the Rutgers defense has recorded 13 sacks for 74 yards, and has
forced six interceptions and two fumbles.
Kevin Snyder and Steve Longa each registered a team-high nine tackles versus
the Lions Saturday, with Snyder adding 1.5 tackles for loss – both sacks – and
a quarterback hurry. Longa is the team leader in stops through three games
with 24, with Snyder close behind at 21 total. A very active defensive front
seven will be extremely busy trying to cut down a Navy rushing attack that has
already gained 1,209 yards this season.
The Navy rushing attack was in full swing last time out as the Midshipmen took
on Texas State. Navy rushers carried the ball a mind blowing 57 times in the
contest, gaining 352 yards with three rushing scores. Unlike the Rutgers-Penn
State contest, it was an offensive battle between the Midshipmen (who won
35-21) and the Bobcats.
Noah Copeland led the Midshipmen on the ground with 116 yards on 11 carries,
which equated to a 10.5 ypc average. Quarterback Tago Smith, who attempted
just seven passes all game in the run-oriented offense, carried the ball the
most with 27 totes for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He completed five of his
seven pass attempts for 117 yards two touchdowns.
The only player on Navy that caught more than one pass in the game was Brendan
Dudeck, who had two receptions for nine yards and a score. But when Navy does
connect on a pass, it usually does damage. That’s apparent in Jamir Tillman’s
lone catch of 67 yards (which resulted in a score) and Thomas Wilson’s
reception of 22 yards.
Navy’s offense has done a solid job through three games, averaging 27.7 ppg.
Defensively, the Midshipmen may be playing a little too close for comfort.
Opponents are scoring an average of 26.3 ppg, and rack up 419.3 total
offensive ypg. Still, the Navy defense has allowed a low 34 percent third-down
conversion rate, and has recorded three interceptions through three games.
Both Parrish Gaines and Jordan Drake recorded a team-best seven stops in last
weekend’s win over Texas State, but as a whole the group didn’t do much to
disrupt the Bobcats. Navy had just two tackles for loss, one interception and
didn’t register one quarterback hurry.
This matchup presents an interesting combination: Rutgers has a stout, very
fierce front seven, while Navy relies almost entirely on the run game.
Overall, the Scarlet Knights have more talent, but Navy has the home
advantage. This one should be a battle to the end.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 28, Rutgers 25