Navy (5-5) at South Alabama (6-5) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ladd-Peebles Stadium (34,471) -- Mobile, Alabama. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Navy 3-2, South Alabama 3-2. Away Record: Navy 2-1, South Alabama 3-3. Neutral Record: Navy 0-2, South Alabama 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, South Alabama 5-3. Series Record: Navy leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Playing their final game of the regular season, the South Alabama Jaguars welcome the Navy Midshipmen to Ladd-Peebles Stadium for a non- conference clash on Friday afternoon.
The Jaguars, members of the Sun Belt Conference where they are in fourth place in the standings with a record of 5-3, they've lost three of the last four outings. The latest setback for USA came on Saturday when the team was thumped by South Carolina on the road, 37-12. With a victory South Alabama would finish over .500 and improve its chances of being offered a post-season bid.
Meanwhile the Midshipmen, who still have their annual meeting against Army on the docket the second week of December, need at least one win in the final two games in order to be considered for postseason play. A victory this week almost assures the squad, which has appeared in a bowl in 10 of the last 11 seasons, will be heading to the San Diego County Poinsettia Bowl a few days before Christmas
The Academy is coming off a lopsided 52-19 thrashing of Georgia Southern on Nov. 15, the third win in four games for the squad after suffering through a three-game slide
The first time these teams met in November of 2013, the Midshipmen crushed the visitors to Annapolis by a score of 42-14, making themselves bowl eligible in the process.
Navy might not be displaying a winning record at the moment, but make no mistake in the fact that the team has one of the best running backs in the nation in quarterback Keenan Reynolds. While he is listed as the signal caller, operating the triple-option on offense makes him a running threat every time he takes the ball from center.
In the last outing he ran for a career-high 277 yards and scored six touchdowns on the ground, tossing a seventh for good measure in the romp over Georgia Southern. Reynolds now has 58 rushing touchdowns, ninth-most in NCAA history and the third-most by a quarterback as he trails only Eric Crouch and Colin Kaepernick who tallied 59. The all-time NCAA record of 77 rushing TDs by Montee Ball might be out of reach, but you can be sure he and the rest of the Midshipmen will try to get him as close as possible.
The team ranks first in the country in rushing now with 354.8 ypg and has scored a staggering 36 TDs, thanks in large part to the 17 TDs delivered by Reynolds, the quarterback also tossing five scores in order to keep defenses honest from time to time.
Even though the stats are rarely talked about, it is also important to note that Navy, which is 86th in the country in total defense with 427.3 ypg allowed, is first in the nation in fewest penalties per game (2.4) and penalty yards (24.2 ypg).
As for the Jaguars, their offense was almost nowhere to be found last week against South Carolina, outside of four successful field goals by Aleem Sunanon. South Alabama was limited to just 289 yards on 78 snaps, turning the ball over five times total (four INTs, one fumble).
Quarterbacks Brandon Bridge and Hunter Vaughn combined to hit only 17-of-34 passes for 170 yards, the latter being picked off four times by the Gamecocks along the way. The ground attack wasn't much better as the squad produced 119 yards on 44 attempts.
On the season, Bridge has handled the majority of the snaps, completing an even 50 percent of his attempts for 164.0 ypg and total of 10 TDs. Vaughn, who has converted 64.3 percent of his passes, now has just a single TD, against six interceptions. As a group, USA has thrown 13 INTs and only 12 TDs over 11 games.
If there is a bright spot on the USA defense it has to be Theo Rich who, with just 36 total stops, leads the program with not only 11 tackles for loss but also seven sacks.
The key for the Jags will be how well they can stop the run and Reynolds and at this point the team ranks 76th nationally with 172.7 ypg allowed on the ground. It might sound like a decent number, but that's typically what teams think before they line up against Navy in the trenches.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 41, South Alabama 24Game Date and Time
Friday, November 28, 3 p.m. (ET).