Navy football hoping to make statement vs. red-hot Memphis in Week 5

Navy football hits the road to play the Memphis Tigers at Liberty Bowl Stadium in an AAC matchup. Here is a preview, prediction and how to watch.

This AAC conference opener is the sternest test for both teams. The Midshipmen come into this game having defeated Holy Cross and East Carolina. Memphis does have a Power Five win on their résumé with a win over Ole Miss. They’ve also defeated Southern and South Alabama.

This game definitely lives up to the cliché “styles make fights”. The Tigers will attack the Navy defense with their multiple-formation up-tempo spread offense while Navy will “throw” the triple-option at the Tigers.

Memphis junior quarterback Brady White is off to a good start completing 71 percent of his passes with five touchdowns. Freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell has settled in well replacing star tailback Darrell Henderson.

For Navy, it’s same old, same old. They lead the nation in rushing yards and don’t throw the ball very much. Quarterback Malcolm Perry leads the team in both passing and rushing yards this season with his fullback second. The defenses for both teams are difficult reads since they haven’t had the most robust of competition, however, there’s something to be said of Memphis holding an SEC offense to 10 points.

Here’s how to view this Thursday night tilt:

Date: Thursday, Sept. 26
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Memphis, Tenn.
Venue: Liberty Bowl Stadium
TV: ESPN
Stream: WatchESPN

Keys to Victory

This is definitely a game about style. Like most games, it’s the accumulation of the little things that will make a difference. Most important for Memphis is third down on both offense and defense. The Tigers need to not only stop Navy on third downs, they need either no gain, or negative plays. If the distance and situation fit the metrics, Navy will go for it on fourth down. This will force Navy punts and get the ball back.

On the offensive side, the Tigers need to convert third downs to extend drives. Memphis needs to know that every time Navy gets the ball on offense they don’t know how long it’s going to be until they get the ball back. To that end, Memphis needs to score touchdowns when they have an opportunity, not field goals.

Navy, then needs to stay in front of the sticks. No negative plays. The Midshipmen don’t mind 2 or 3-yard gains on first down because it keeps them on schedule. They don’t want no gain or losses on first down. Memphis needs to know third-and-5 is probably a four-down play-call. Navy has no issue going for it on fourth down. Much like the Memphis defense, Navy has to get off the field on third downs. They need to be as fresh as possible in the fourth quarter.

Betting Odds 

Odds courtesy of Bovada

Line: Memphis -10.5
Over/Under: 53.5

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Prediction

If I were a gambler, I’d take Navy and the points, but stay away from the over. Memphis had a big win over the Ole Miss Rebels to open the season and Navy hasn’t been tested yet. The Midshipmen are coming off of a disappointing 3-10 year, and are looking to turn things around. However, Navy isn’t as dynamic as it’s been in years past, and Memphis looks poised to unseat UCF in the AAC.

Prediction: Memphis 30, Navy 21