When a 7-1 team plays a 2-6 squad, it can seem like the former only needs to show up to win. That’s not the case, of course, as any team can beat any other no matter the circumstances. So even though the Cincinnati Bearcats are 12.5-point favorites against the Navy Midshipmen this weekend, they still have to be on their game to come away with a victory. That includes earning the edge in the following areas.
UC’s rushing defense vs. Navy’s rushing offense
One team doesn’t let you run at all while the other only wants to run. No, its not the next sitcom on CBS, its what the viewing public will witness on Saturday. The Bearcats are allowing roughly 103 rushing yards per game. That’s 13th-best in the national and nearly 50 yards better than the next-best team in the American Athletic Conference.
Meanwhile, this might not be the same bowl-bound Navy team of the recent past, but the Midshipmen are still built around their option running attack. It’s the same type of scheme that has been piling up the rushing yards for decades. Navy leads the AAC in yards on the ground, with more than 300 per game.
Since the Midshipmen pretty much run exclusively, taking to the ground on 84.3 percent of their offensive snaps, you know they will get there’s. What UC has to do is make sure its as difficult as possible.
Michael Warren vs. Malcolm Perry
This isn’t really a one-on-one style matchup. Warren won’t be on the field when Perry is. However, these are two of the best rushers in the AAC, so whichever guy is able to pick up more yards will probably tip the scales. Warren is averaging 107.9 yards rushing per game, and Perry is right behind him at 107.8. They rank third and fourth, respectively, in the league and 100-yard efforts are pretty much expected. If you can’t get your hands on a score at the end of this one, a look at who led the way in rushing will probably give you all that you need.
Desmond Ridder vs. Jarid Ryan
Ridder has shown his age a bit recently, especially when it comes to avoiding turnovers. Four of his five interceptions this season have come in the last three games, which makes facing a ballhawk like Ryan a little frightening. A senior cornerback from Maryland, Ryan has brought in three picks this season, which is tied for the most in the conference. He also has six pass breakups for good measure. Ridder shouldn’t have too much trouble throwing the ball, since Navy is in the bottom half of the league in passing defense, but avoiding Ryan would make it much easier.
Penalties vs. no penalties
Much in the same way these two teams are exact opposites in run offense vs. run defense, the Bearcats and Midshipmen are not having the same type of year in terms of penalties. UC has been flagged more than any team in the AAC, while Navy has been penalized the fewest times. In fact, UC averages more than twice as many penalties per game (8.4) as Navy (3.8). To this point, penalties haven’t entirely held UC back, but they have definitely come up in major spots occasionally. If the Bearcats beat themselves, then Navy will too.
UC vs. a bad series history
Even though this isn’t a storied rivalry by any stretch of the imagination, the Bearcats are still fighting some less than ideal prior results. In three all-time meetings, UC has never beaten Navy, including a 42-32 loss last season. It’s still far too early in the all-time series for Navy to be declared the dominant team, but the Bearcats would certainly like to get rid of that zero in the win column against the Midshipmen.