The Navy Midshipmen and East Carolina Pirates will meet in Greenville, North Carolina, with a similar objective of establishing a two-game winning streak. Both programs picked up a win in conference play last week and are looking for more this weekend. Navy has traditionally dominated this series, but nothing is to be taken for granted in the 2020 season, as Navy knows from first-hand experience.
Navy has lost its two non-conference games to BYU and Air Force by a combined 95-10 margin, but the Midshipmen have been dominant in AAC play. And it has a chance to stay on top of the American with an unblemished conference record. Can the Midshipmen improve to 3-0 in the AAC, or will East Carolina shake things up a bit with a big win at home?
Navy at East Carolina
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 17 at 12 p.m.
TV: ESPN2/simulcast on ESPN+
Spread: Navy -2
Three Things to Watch
1. Navy's roller-coaster season continues
One week sees Navy get completely manhandled by a more prepared BYU, and the next sees the Midshipmen dig out of a big early hole against Tulane to score a win. Then Navy gets dominated one more time by Air Force but follows it up with a close win against Temple. Trying to figure out what Navy does on a week-to-week basis has been one of the more difficult things to do this season. The guessing game continues this weekend against the Pirates. But if there is one thing that is consistent, it is Navy's record against ECU. Navy is 6-1 all-time against East Carolina, including four straight double-digit victories dating back to 2012.
2. Can Holton Ahlers keep cooking in the ECU passing game?
One of the big reasons East Carolina picked up its first win of the season last weekend was the performance of Ahlers. The junior quarterback tossed three touchdowns while completing 65.4 percent of his attempts without an interception. His completion percentage has improved each week this season.
3. Getting the triple-option going early
Navy rebounded from its tough loss to Air Force by getting things started the way they like it against Temple. That would be with time-consuming long touchdown drives. Doing so early on helps wear down opposing defenses a little bit faster. That will once again be the strategy for Navy against East Carolina as the Midshipmen look to get senior fullback Nelson Smith and Jamale Carothers involved from the jump.
East Carolina may be riding high after their first win of the season, but Navy won't allow for the good vibes to last too much longer down in Greenville this weekend. Navy is finally ready to show some consistency from one game to the next and has a favorable draw to make it happen. East Carolina gave up 49 points to Georgia State and 51 to UCF. Navy won't be likely to put up that many points, but the Midshipmen may be able to score their season's highest point total so far.
Prediction: Navy 37, East Carolina 33
(Top photo courtesy of navysports.com)