San Jose State (3-3) at Navy (3-4) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (30,000) -- Annapolis, Maryland. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: SJSU 2-1, Navy 1-2. Away Record: SJSU 1-2, Navy 2-1. Neutral Record: SJSU 0-0, Navy 0-1. Conference Record: SJSU 2-1, Navy 0-0. Series Record: San Jose State leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: San Jose State takes a break from Mountain West Conference play this weekend and travels to the other side of the country to challenge the Midshipmen of Navy on Saturday afternoon.
After losing three straight outings against tough competition, the Spartans finally managed to put together back-to-back victories recently and move to an even .500 on the campaign as a result. Following a convincing 33-10 triumph over UNLV back on Oct. 4, SJSU took a break and then fought through against Wyoming last Saturday, needing overtime to pull out a 27-20 decision in Laramie.
As for the Midshipmen, they have taken some time off in recent weeks as well. Like the Spartans, Navy had also dropped three in a row earlier in the campaign, but put an end to the slide with a whopping 51-14 victory over VMI on Oct. 11 at home. However, unlike SJSU, the Midshipmen are still below .500 at the moment, showing a 3-4 mark with four games remaining on the schedule after this weekend.
San Jose State won the first two meetings in this series before the Midshipmen won a thriller last season in triple-overtime, 58-52. During last year's contest, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds set an NCAA record by scoring seven rushing touchdowns, the last of which was the game-winner. Reynolds, who is listed as questionable for this weekend due to a shoulder injury, eventually went on to set the NCAA record for rushing TDs in a season by a quarterback at 31.
He may not have scored the game-winning points, but SJSU kicker Austin Lopez was still critical to the overtime victory for the Spartans as he tied the game in the final minute of regulation with a 50-yard field goal. In the extra session, it was quarterback Joe Gray who hooked up with Tyler Winston on a four-yard TD pass to seal the deal.
Gray hit on 33 of his 45 pass attempts, leading to 322 yards and two touchdowns, the other score going to Hansell Wilson. Gray was sacked twice, but managed to find some running room in order to score and 18-yard TD early in the fourth to give the Spartans a lead at the time. For his efforts, Gray was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week.
Defensively, the visitors held Wyoming to just 11 first downs and 277 yards of total offense, and still the game had to be decided in overtime. Additionally, the Spartans limited the Pokes to just 5-of-16 on third down and a total of 58 offensive plays. Christian Tago finished with a game-high 13 tackles.
Through six games, Tago has a team-best 54 stops, but just three of those coming for loss. As a group, the Spartans have but 24 TFL, compared to 40 for the opposition thus far. As should be expected, SJSU is also lacking in the way of sacks, producing a grand total of just five quarterback takedowns.
However, on a more positive note, the secondary is more than doing the job for the Spartans, holding foes to only 94.5 ypg through the air and a pass efficiency rating of only 84.62, both of which rank the Spartans atop the national charts this week.
Unfortunately, the offense for San Jose State is somewhat lacking these days, generating only 22.0 ppg to rank 104th in the country. The running attack is responsible for only 146.5 ypg (86th) and the offense overall a respectable 406.3 ypg, but in the MWC that tends to feed on offense, those numbers are simply not good enough.
Against VMI, even while holding out Reynolds as a precaution, the Midshipmen played their best offensive game of the season in terms of points. The squad rolled up 352 yards and five touchdowns on 49 run plays, and added another 82 yards and a score by way of the pass. Tago Smith handled the snaps for Navy, completing three of his five passes, one of those going to Noah Copeland for 16 yards and a score.
Copeland also led his team in rushing with 107 yards and a TD on just eight attempts, while Smith had a rushing TD of his own in the lopsided victory.
Forcing the Keydets into punts on their first four possessions, the Midshipmen also held the visitors to only 4-of-15 on third down and a mere 262 yards of total offense.
The defense has been a bit shaky for the Midshipmen this season, ranking 70th in yards allowed with 410.0 ypg. The squad's pass efficiency rating comes in at 139.93, which means Navy is 94th in the country in that department entering play this week.
A lack of defensive punch does have at least one benefit though, as the team commits just 3.1 penalties per contest, the lowest number of any FBS program at the moment.
Because the Navy offense operates almost exclusively in the triple-option, while it is important for the squad to get Reynolds back on the field, Smith seems to be settling in rather well and should be capable of covering for the star quarterback until the time when the coaches feel Reynolds is ready to return to full strength.
The second-best rushing attack in the country (342.1 ypg) should be more than capable of controlling the action this week and keeping the Spartans at arm's length, especially after the visitors traveled all the way across the country for this meeting. It also doesn't hurt that SJSU cannot play to its strength on defense this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 23, San Jose State 17Game Date and Time
Saturday, October 25, 1 p.m. (ET).