The Mids travel to Dallas on Saturday to take on SMU in the battle for the Ganz Trophy.Navy leads the all-time series against the Mustangs 10-7 and has won six in a row against this weekend’s opponent. There is something on the line for both teams (in addition to the aforementioned trophy) as Navy is playing for the right to host the American Athletic Conference Championship Game and the 5-6 Mustangs are working to become bowl eligible.
Season so far
The Mustangs enter this game with Navy sitting in fifth place in the AAC West with a 5-6 (3-4) record after 11 games.
SMU was a little bit of a dumpster fire in 2015 after Chad Morris took over as the head coach knowing that he had to build from the bottom up. Last year the ‘Stangs went 2-10, so anything in 2016 was going to be an improvement. SMU matched their win total from the entirety of last season just two weeks into this one with non-conference wins over North Texas (34-21) and FCS school Liberty (29-14). The one loss in those opening three weeks coming to Texas rival Baylor of the Big 12.
The shine then disappeared from the Mustangs promising start as they hit a stretch of difficult games and dropped there in a row. Their tough non-con schedule bit them again in a 33-3 loss to TCU, while the first two conference games of the year were losing road trips to Temple (45-20) and Tulsa (43-40 OT).
SMU then rebounded with a huge win over #11 Houston and a road win at Tulane to get back to an even 4-4 on the season. Their flaws have been exposed in two of the last three weeks, though, with a big 51-7 loss at Houston and a closer defeat (35-27) at USF sandwiching a road win at East Carolina.
Injuries and Suspensions
The Mustangs do not have a lot of fresh injury worries, something that is pretty rare this deep into the season. Obviously, by now there are players all over the country dealing with nagging injuries and the wear of a long season, but with this game against Navy been a boom or bust situation for SMU and their bowl hopes, anyone that can play will play.
Those that are out injured have generally been sidelined for a while. The most obvious of these is quarterback Matt Davis who was ruled out for the season with a knee injury in early September. Other players out for the season of indefinitely (which at this point may as well be for the season) include RB Xavier Jones (shoulder), LB Nick Horton (undisclosed), and OL Chad Pursley (ACL).
It would be nice to see Navy play up to its level and blow out a Southern Methodist team that is improving, but that is not up to the Mids level. Navy has been rolling as of late on offense and has scored over 40 points in five of its last six games. The Mids though have been pretty bad at letting the other team stay close (with the exception of ECU last weekend) and five of the eight Navy wins have come by seven points or less. With the AAC Title Game and a potentially big bowl game down the road, the Mids need to keep the fire burning on offense and show the same level of defensive effort that we got from the team last weekend.