Navy will face off against No. 20 UCF for the first time ever on Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at 3:30 pm.
Navy is tied with Memphis, Houston, SMU and Tulane with 5-1 records in the AAC West Division, but Memphis owns the tiebreaker over Navy after beating Navy last week 30-27. UCF and USF are tied for first place in the AAC East division and both have a 3-game lead against the rest of the division.
The success of No.20 UCF may have caught a lot of people off guard, but their numbers show it isn’t a fluke. They average almost 500 YPG on offense and average 50.6 PPG. Their average margin of victory is 34 PPG. They beat FIU 61-17, Maryland 38-10, Cincinnati 51-23, ECU 63-21 and a Memphis team that just gave Navy their first loss of the season 40-13.
The UCF offense, which is ranked 5th in the country, is led by QB McKenzie Milton. Milton has completed 70% of his passes, throwing for 1,489 yards and 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Wide Receiver Tre’Quan Smith has seven of those TD’s, good for seventh most in the nation, and 20 receptions for 430 yards.
The UCF defense is also going to be a problem for a Navy offense that has been inconsistent throughout much of the season. UCF has given up just 16.8 PPG and their rushing defense is giving up only 110.2 YPG which is ranked 19th in the country. The defense is led by Pat Jaskinski with 33 tackles, one sack, and a fumble recovery.
The Mids have a tough test ahead of them after last week’s disappointing loss. QB Zach Abey turned the ball over five times, the most turnovers since 2002, and have turned the ball over 11 times so far in their six games. But Coach Niumatalolo is no stranger to beating ranked opponents. Navy’s 46-40 win over No. 6/5 Houston last year marked the second straight year it has knocked off a nationally-ranked opponent after the Mids dealt No. 15/16 Memphis a 45-20 loss in 2015.