FACTS & STATS: Site: Glass Bowl (26,248) -- Toledo, Ohio. Television: ESPNews. Home Record: Navy 2-0, Toledo 2-0. Away Record: Navy 1-2, Toledo 1-3. Neutral Record: Navy 0-0, Toledo 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, Toledo 2-1. Series Record: Toledo leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of schools hoping to take one step closer to a postseason berth will collide as the Navy Midshipmen invade the Glass Bowl for a non- conference tilt versus the Toledo Rockets.
Navy's offense let it down last week as it was handed a 35-7 setback by the Duke Blue Devils in Durham. The loss dropped Navy to a 3-2 overall record including a 1-2 mark in away games. Coach Ken Niumatalolo's squad was also held to seven points in its 19-7 loss at Western Kentucky, but scored an average of 40 points per game in its three victories over Indiana (41-35), Delaware (51-7) and Air Force (28-10).
Toledo had a bye week last week, giving it extra time to prepare for Navy's powerful rushing attack. The Rockets are 3-3 with losses to three respectable opponents in Florida (24-6), Missouri (38-23) and Ball State (31-24). They have defeated the defending FCS National Champion, Eastern Washington (33-21) along with Central Michigan (38-17) and most recently improved to 2-1 in Mid- American Conference play with a 47-20 rout of Western Michigan (47-20). Coach Matt Campbell owns a 13-7 career record and is 7-1 at the Glass Bowl.
This will be the fourth time in history these schools encounter each other on the gridiron. Toledo has won two of three games, including a 21-20 decision when it last faced the Midshipmen in 2001.
While the Navy offensive attack has been up-and-down thus far, it has consistently done the majority of its damage on the ground, ranking 10th in the nation with 281.2 rushing ypg. Navy has rushed for 16 of its 18 touchdowns. As a result, the Midshipmen's passing attack is one of the weakest in the FBS at 105.4 ypg. They were held well below their averages by Duke last week, tallying only 230 yards on the ground and just 89 through the air.
Keenan Reynolds runs the show from under center, and has been the most used player in the option rushing attack. He is the team's leading rusher with 416 yards on 97 carries and has crossed the goal line seven times. He has also been serviceable as a passer in his limited opportunities, going 26-of-44 for 467 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Chris Swain is the primary tailback, although he has averaged only 3.5 yards per carry en route to 201 yards and two scores in five games. Darius Slaten, DeBrandon Sanders and Geoffrey Whiteside all average more than 10 yards per attempt on at least 10 carries. Sanders leads the team in receiving yards with 153 on just seven catches.
Navy's defense has held three of its five opponents under 20 points, but had a weak showing last week against Duke. The Blue Devils finished with 435 yards of offense, while holding the Midshipmen to just 319 total yards. On the season, Navy is allowing just over 396 yards per contest and ranks 29th in the nation yielding only 21.2 ppg.
Chris Johnson is a playmaker in the Midshipmen's defensive backfield and leads them with three interceptions to along with 33 tackles. Cody Peterson leads the team in stops with 48. Navy registered two sacks at Duke last week after taking down the opposing quarterback on only three occasions through its first four games.
Toledo will most likely look for its star tailback David Fluellen to carry the load once again. Fluellen raked up a season-high 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries in the team's lopsided win over WMU. The senior is now tied with Chester Taylor for the school record of four career 200-yard rushing games. Fluellen is leading the MAC in touchdown runs with nine and is fourth in the nation with 846 rushing yards.
The Rockets' passing attack has not been as stellar due to the inconsistent play of senior quarterback Terrence Owens, who has tallied four touchdown passes to five interceptions through six games. Owens has not been completely healthy throughout the campaign and three of the picks were thrown in the loss at Missouri. He has thrown a touchdown pass in three straight games, while completing 65.9 percent of his attempts for 562 yards during that span.
Bernard Reedy reeled in four catches for 85 yards and a score the last time Toledo took the field. The senior wideout is second in the conference in receptions with 43, which has translated into 413 yards and two touchdowns. Alonzo Russell showed he can hurt opposing defense's that give Reedy all of the attention as he tied his career-high with nine receptions for 147 yards, including a fourth quarter touchdown in the team's loss to Ball State.
The Rockets are one of the best teams in the MAC against the run with only 142.7 yards allowed per game and an opponent average of 3.7 yards per carry. They held WMU to just 87 rushing yards on 40 attempts their last time out. Toledo also forced four turnovers without giving the ball away once in the lopsided victory. Chaz Whittaker led the rapidly improving unit with two interceptions. The Rockets put up a dominant display versus the Broncos despite a quiet performance by star linebacker, Junior Sylvestre, who registered only six total tackles with one stop behind the line. The junior linebacker is still fourth in the MAC with 9.8 tackles per game.
Campbell has to like his team's chances as Navy's run-heavy attack will have to conquer the strongest aspect of his defense. The Rockets have been nearly perfect at home under their second-year head coach and should continue that trend of success with a healthier Owens thanks to the bye week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 27, Navy 17
Saturday, October 19, 12 p.m. (et)