A struggling Navy team is back in action when they face No. 10 UCF at Spectrum Stadium. The Mids have now lost six straight games, including a 42-0 rout at Cincinnati on Saturday. The Knights have now won 21 straight games after beating Temple last Thursday, 52-40 at home. Last season, UCF edged Navy, 31-21 from Annapolis.
A new quarterback, same result
Zach Abey was the Navy starting quarterback most of last season before replaced by Malcolm Perry, who started out this season at quarterback. Perry was moved to slotback because the offense was inefficient and Greg Lewis took over. Then last week against Cincinnati, Abey moved back to quarterback from wide receiver and ran for just 37 yards on 28 carries against the Bearcats.
So whatever coach Ken Niumatalolo has tried for his offense, it has not worked. The Mids amassed a pitiful 171 yards and just 124 rushing yards against Cincinnati. On defense, they allowed 451 yards, including 262 on the ground.
“Early on we had some missed assignments and mistakes that kind of killed us. After that, it was just a case of losing our one-on-one battles,” Niumatalolo said. “That’s to their credit. They did some movement that made it tough for us to block them.”
Part of the problem has been Navy’s schedule. After losing at Air Force and SMU, they took on Temple, Houston, Notre Dame and Cincinnati. A rough schedule for a team that can’t find a rhythm on offense. They can’t rely on their defense because they are undersized. It’s the offense that has to possess the ball and keep their opponents offense off the field.
On the season, the Mids are still averaging 286.9 rushing yards per game and just 71.9 passing yards. They are giving up 441.9 yards per game including 255 in the air.
Milton returns in shootout win
McKenzie Milton is having another impressive season for the UCF Knights. Last year, he threw for 4,037 yards with 37 TDs and nine picks. This season, Milton has thrown for 2,109 yards with 19 TDs and five picks with seven rushing scores. Milton missed the Knights’ 37-10 road win over East Carolina on Oct. 20 due to various injuries. They didn’t need him and after a bye, he came back to lead them to a 52-40 win over Temple.
Milton threw for 312 yards with three TDs and a pick while picking up a rushing score in the victory. Greg McCrae had a monster game for UCF with 188 rushing yards on 16 attempts with one TD.
"The Knightmare, every time we've walked into that stadium, they've been absolutely fantastic." – Heup
More from Coach and the Knights at today's presser 👇 pic.twitter.com/wN9ClaBEYR
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) November 5, 2018
There is a concern about the defense, which gave up 670 yards to Temple, including 444 in the air. They did pick off Anthony Russo twice and 14 Owls penalties for 149 yards didn’t hurt UCF’s cause.
Consistency is extremely impressive for the Knights. They found a way to win at Memphis (31-30) after another poor defensive effort but a 45-14 win over Pittsburgh is looking pretty good after the Panthers upset Virginia last week. On the season, the Knights rank third in the nation in yards per game with 548.8, 5th in rushing yards (268.2ypg) and 25th in passing yards (280.5). On defense, they are giving up 429.8 yards per contest (96th) and 241.5 yards per game in the air (90th). The key stat is the ground defense, which is giving up 188.2 yards per game (94th) going up against Navy’s option.
- 4-0 ATS last 4 home games.
- 5-1 ATS last 6 conference games.
- 0-7 ATS last 7 overall.
- 0-5 ATS last 5 road games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I’ve gone with Navy a few times this season but I’m done. They never cover anymore and their offense is a rudderless ship. They’ve tried three quarterbacks to no avail and in the triple option, everything is timing. You can’t experiment this late in the season. Milton should have a field day against their pass defense and he’ll be out in the second half because this will be a Clemson-like blowout.
Prediction: UCF -25.5
Full-Game Total Pick
This appears to be the tougher pick because Navy has been so inept on offense lately. But they do face a bad UCF defense that doesn’t really stop the run. They’ll also be facing a lot of their reserves in the second half when the score is 42-7. UCF could be put up 60 points by themselves. They are 7-3 Over their last 10 home games. Navy is 13-4 Over their last 17 in November.
Prediction: Over 63
Half-Time Side Pick
If this was Navy last season, I would take them in this situation. But they are so dysfunctional right now on offense, it’s tough seeing them score more than a touchdown in the first half. They can’t stop Milton and that speed on UCF. It’s going to be ugly from the jump.
Prediction: UCF -14.5 first half
Half-Time Total Bet
UCF could score 30 points in the first half because I don’t see Navy possessing the ball for 6-7 minute drives. Expect the Knights to put up at least 14 points in both quarters.
Prediction: Over 34