ANNAPOLIS (AP) — No. 21 SMU will travel to Navy in a pivotal AAC-West Matchup Saturday.
Line: Navy by 3 1/2.
Series record: Navy leads 12-8.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Both teams are chasing Memphis in the West Division of the American Athletic Conference. If Memphis loses to either USF on Saturday or to Cincinnati on Nov. 29, the winner of this game has the opportunity to win the division outright with a victory next Saturday (Navy at Houston, SMU at Tulane).
SMU’s defense against Navy QB Malcolm Perry. Priority No. 1 for the Mustangs is to stuff Perry, the force behind Navy’s potent triple option. Perry, who has rushed for 1,159 yards and 16 touchdowns, is the key component of a rushing attack that leads the nation at 349.3 yards per game. Interestingly, the last time these teams played, Navy rushed for 349 yards on 76 attempts in the Mustangs’ 31-30 overtime victory in 2018. SMU currently ranks 30th in the country in rushing defense (124.4 yards per game).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
SMU: Texas transfer QB Shane Buechele, who’s 249 for 388 for 3,207 yards and 28 TDs, is one big reason Mustangs are averaging 45.1 points per game. Last week, Buechele threw for 414 yards and five touchdowns in 59-51 win over East Carolina.
Navy: LB Diego Fagot leads the Midshipmen with 69 tackles, including seven last week against Notre Dame. He has 7½ tackles for a loss, a pair of sacks and one forced fumble. Fagot anchors a defense that was playing at a high level until being torn apart last week by the Fighting Irish.
FACTS & FIGURES
Final home game of the season for the Midshipmen, who have won 16 consecutive games on Senior Day since losing to UConn in 2002. … SMU RB Xavier Jones has rushed for 1,068 yards and 18 TDs. Fifth-year senior coming off his most productive outing of the season, 157 yards rushing on only 20 carries vs East Carolina. … Perry has thrown only 60 passes, completing 32 for 758 yards and five TDs for nation’s 128th-ranked passing attack. … Navy seeking first win over ranked team since defeating Houston in October 2016. … SMU has lost only four fumbles and recovered nine.
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