Cincinnati's push for a lucrative spot in the College Football Playoff will continue this weekend as the Bearcats take on the Navy Midshipmen in Annapolis, Maryland. The way things have been rolling for the No. 2 team in the nation, it seems as though Navy could be in for a long afternoon against the dominant force within the American Athletic Conference.
Cincinnati and Navy are just on completely different playing fields entering this weekend's AAC matchup. While Cincinnati (6-0, 2-0) is ascending in the polls and marching their way to a conference championship and a spot in the New Year's Six, if not the playoff, Navy (1-5, 1-3) is struggling its way through one of the worst seasons of the Ken Niumatalolo era. Can the Midshipmen stand tall at home and give one of the nation's best teams a battle? Or will the Bearcats plow their way through Navy to keep their big goals in front of them?
No. 2 Cincinnati at Navy
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 23 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Cincinnati -28
When Cincinnati Has the Ball
If the Bearcats have to score a lot of points in every game they play for the rest of the season, then they appear to be in good shape with the offense. Cincinnati has scored at least 50 points in each of its past two games, with 52 against Temple and 56 last week against UCF. And Navy has allowed at least 28 points in each of its last four games. The magic number against Navy appears to be four touchdowns to get a win this season, and Cincinnati is well-positioned to accomplish that.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder has continued to impress this season, and he is on pace for a career-high in touchdown passes and season-long passer rating. Navy doesn't have the kind of defensive talent to slow him down this week.
When Navy Has the Ball
You know what you are going to get out of the Midshipmen on offense every time they take the field. Passes will be a rarity, as Navy sticks to the triple-option attack on the ground. Controlling the line of scrimmage and clock will be key to keep things relatively close against Cincinnati.
But the Middies will struggle to get much traction because the Bearcats bring the AAC's second-best rushing defense into the game. Cincinnati has allowed just 122.8 rushing yards per game this season, and that includes its matchups against both Notre Dame and Indiana. Cincinnati is loaded at every level in defensive end Myjai Sanders and cornerback Ahmad Gardner, but the linebackers have really shined with Deshawn Price leading the team in tackles (45), TFLs (4.5), and interceptions (3) while Darrian Beavers paces the team with 3.0 sacks.
This is a game that doesn't need much explanation. Cincinnati is just simply the far better team in this year's matchup, the first between these two programs since 2018. Cincinnati won that game 42-0, and this year's result could look strikingly similar. The Bearcats are far more talented and bigger on the line of scrimmage, and that will be difficult for the Midshipmen to overcome, even at home. The Bearcats win this one in a big way to continue doing everything they need to make a case for a spot in the College Football Playoff as the selection committee gets close to start evaluating the playoff picture.
Prediction: Cincinnati 38, Navy 10
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