Navy vs Army
When: 3:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 10, 2016
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
BALTIMORE – (Wire Service Preview by Sports XChange for Digital Sports Desk) – It didn’t take long for Navy to get over its loss in the American Athletic Conference championship game because all it had to do was look at the next game on the schedule. The Midshipmen try for their 15th consecutive victory over Army on Saturday in Baltimore but must do so without key injured players, including senior quarterback Will Worth and senior running back Toneo Gulley as they suffered season-ending foot injuries in the 34-10 loss to Temple for the AAC title Dec. 3.
Navy sophomore quarterback Zach Abey makes his first career start and while he will probably produce less than Worth (1,198 rushing yards, 25 touchdowns on the ground), he’s ready for the challenge, telling reporters: “It is going to be a big responsibility and I will be up for it.” Abey saw his first career action in the last three games, rushing for 197 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries while all his passing numbers – 7-of-13 for 104 yards and two interceptions – came against Temple. The Black Knights have three weeks to prepare for the Midshipmen after rushing for 504 yards in a 60-3 victory over FCS member Morgan State on Nov. 19 and boast the No. 2 ground attack in the nation at 328.9 yards per game with Navy third at 327.5. President-elect Donald Trump will be on hand to witness the first meeting between winning teams since 2010, but won’t see much passing as the clubs each average less than 11 attempts.
TV: 3 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Navy -6
ABOUT NAVY (9-3): The Midshipmen, who scored 183 points in victories over Tulsa, East Carolina and SMU prior to the Temple game, lost more than 41 percent of their rushing yards with the injuries to Worth and Gulley (427 yards). Junior fullback Chris High (483 yards, five touchdowns), senior fullback Shawn White (421, seven) and Abey are among those who must fill the void. Navy is also banged up on defense as three starters – cornerback Elijah Merchant (concussion), outside linebacker Josiah Powell (leg) and inside linebacker Hudson Sullivan (knee) – are questionable to play Saturday.
ABOUT ARMY (6-5): Junior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (646 rushing yards, six touchdowns on the ground) directs the offense and his most effective maneuver is getting the ball to sophomore running back Andy Davidson (team highs of 818 yards, nine touchdowns). The Black Knights boast the No. 5 total defense in the nation (288.9 yards allowed per game) with senior linebackers Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King each recording a team-best 88 tackles. Army also enters the game less than 100 percent with a pair of freshmen safeties – Jaylon McClinton and Elijah Riley – converted to cornerback, moves necessitated by injuries and the death of Brandon Jackson, who was killed in a September car crash.
1. The teams each have a game remaining as the Midshipmen play Louisiana Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23 and the Black Knights meet North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 27.
2. Because of the AAC title game, Navy meets Army without a week off for the first time since 1941 – nine days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
3. The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is not on the line Saturday as Air Force already claimed it by sweeping the Midshipmen (28-14) and Black Knights (31-12) this season.