When: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Radio: 1090 AM, 1430 AM
Series: Navy leads 56-49-7
Last meeting: Navy won, 27-21, on Dec. 10, 2011 at FedEx Field in Landover
Line: Navy favored by 7
Navy offense vs. Army defense: The Midshipmen have not been sharp early in their past few games, but offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper has made enough adjustments and freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds has made enough plays for the offense to be effective. Texas State tried to focus on Reynolds in Navy’s 21-10 win in its last game on Nov. 17, holding the new Navy star to 85 yards total offense. But Reynolds got the ball in the hands of sophomore fullback Noah Copeland, who rushed for 110 yards and two TDs on 17 carries, as well as senior slotback Gee Gee Greene, who had a combined 109 yards rushing and receiving (including 71 yards with a touchdown on 14 carries). Army’s rushing defense is ranked 118th out of 120 in Football Bowl Subdivision, giving up more than 283 yards per game. Army also allows 37 points per game. The Black Knights will try to force turnovers, as they did in getting five in a 41-21 win over Air Force. But Reynolds has kept his mistakes to a mininum, throwing only one interception in 59 attempts and losing two fumbles (both against Troy in a 41-31 defeat). The Midshipmen might need to finish their drives with touchdowns. After making his first seven field goal attempts this season, freshman kicker Nick Sloan has made only two of his last six, including two misses in Navy’s previous game.
Navy defense vs. Army offense: The Midshipmen rank in the middle of the pack against the run — 61st in FBS, giving up 160.6 yards per game — and face an Army team that has the nation’s top rushing offense (369.8 yards per game). Quarterback Trent Steelman has rushed for 1,152 yards and gone for 100 yards or more in each of the last five games, an academy record. Junior running back Raymond Maples is less than 100 yards behind Steelman overall. Except for the first half of a loss at Troy last month, Buddy Green’s bend-but-don’t-break Navy defense has come up with big stops when it needed to make them. Senior linebacker Keegan Wetzel has been Navy’s big-play producer on defense, with a team-high six sacks (two shy of the single-season school record) and 13.5 tackles for loss. After a shaky performance as a freshman, Steelman has played well against Navy, rushing 31 times for 133 yards and a touchdown the past two years while completing 15 of 26 for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Maples has also run well against Navy, going for 82 yards on 13 carries last year and 66 yards on 13 carries in 2010.