The American Athletic Conference released the 2017 Navy football schedule on Thursday and it yet another challenging slate for the Mids. Navy has five home games to look forward to next season, along with seven (or eight if the Mids make the AAC Championship Game) road or neutral site contests.
Here are some immediate takeaways from the schedule:
1 – No FCS Games
We knew this already, but it is worth repeating that the Mids will not be facing a single team from the lower tier of Division 1 football in 2017. Navy has the most locked in schedule in the country (eight conference games, two service academy games, and Notre Dame) so there is just one spot free for another contest. This year Navy will play Florida Atlantic on the road in that spot (to open the season). The Owls were a 3-9 C-USA squad last year, but as they in the fertile grounds of Florida you never know exactly what they will bring to the table.
2 – The Stretch Run is Tough
November looks like it could be a brutal month for the Mids. Navy plays at Temple (10-4 in 2016), SMU (5-7 but improving), at Notre Dame (it’s Notre Dame), and at Houston (9-4) to close out the season. Notre Dame will be way better than it was last year and playing the Irish on the road is always tough. The biggest unknowns here are how Temple and Houston will react to the departures of head coaches Matt Rhule and Tom Herman respectively. Navy would do well to have a bowl bid secured when it hits this stretch.
3 – The Home Games Are All Winnable
Navy gets two of its first three games at home with clashes against Tulane and Cincinnati sandwiching the one of the Mids’ two bye weeks. Those two teams were a combined 8-16 in 2016. Air Force at home is tough (but winnable), while UCF and SMU both had losing records last season. Ken Niumatalolo would expect Navy to go 4-1 at worst in their home games with a 5-0 record at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium being a real possibility.