Navy (1-0) at (15) Rutgers (1-0)
The Sports Network
GAME NOTES: The 15th-ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights continue their season- opening five-game homestand this Friday when they host the Navy Midshipmen. The Knights kicked off the 2007 campaign in impressive fashion, posting a 38-3 triumph over Buffalo on August 30th. It was the eighth straight home win by Rutgers, which won't play on foreign soil until a date with Syracuse on October 13th. Rutgers has now won five straight home openers under head coach Greg Schiano, who had the program one win away from a BSC Bowl game last season. As for Navy, it opened the 2007 slate on the road, but that didn't seem to be a problem in 30-19 triumph over Temple a week ago. The victory was the 100th of Paul Johnson's head coaching career, with 38 of those coming at Navy. Johnson, who has led the Midshipmen to a school-record four straight bowl games, ranks 10th among all active FBS coaches with a .741 career winning percentage (100-35). Navy and Rutgers have met 21 times on the gridiron, with the series knotted at 10-10-1. The Scarlet Knights have won the last two meetings, including a 34-0 blanking of the Mids in Annapolis last season.
With their option attack, the Mids averaged a national-best 327.0 rushing ypg last season, and that is why it was no surprise that they racked up 361 yards on the ground in the season-opening win against Temple a week ago. Shun White paced the ground attack with 122 yards on just eight carries and Adam Ballard added 78 yards and a pair of scores on 21 totes. Quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku- Enhada, however, was and is the key to the Navy offense and he finished with 102 rushing yards and a score on 15 totes in the Temple game. Kaheaku-Enhada, who took over as the starter in mid-October of last season, also threw for 78 yards on 3-of-7 pass attempts. The Hawaii native is a decent passer, but he will do most of his damage with his legs.
Navy was nothing short of solid on the defensive side of the ball against Temple, limiting the Owls to just 273 yards of total offense. The Mids were especially tough against the run, limiting Temple to 74 yards on 25 carries. The unit intercepted two passes as well, although it did allow the Owls to complete 21-of-29 pass attempts for 199 yards. Last season, the Mids also struggled versus the pass, giving up 218.5 ypg through the air. Clint Sovie guided Navy with 10 tackles in the victory, while Matt Wimsatt added seven stops, an interception and a sack.
Rutgers jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, as it routed Buffalo in last week's opener, 38-3. The offense was nearly flawless against the hapless Bulls, rolling up 563 total yards, including 235 on the ground. Heading the charge was Heisman hopeful Ray Rice, who rushed for 184 yards and three scores on 25 carries. Rice, who has now toped the century mark 16 times in his career, is just 16 yards shy of the school's all-time rushing mark set by Terrell Willis (3,114 yards). Quarterback Mike Teel also put forth a noteworthy effort, as he completed 16-of-23 tosses for 328 yards and two scores. Teel is now 14-3 in his career as a starter for the Knights. While Teel and Rice both put forth tremendous efforts, there was no better performance than that of wide receiver Tiquan Underwood. The junior speedster was simply outstanding against Buffalo, catching a career-high 10 passes for a school-record 248 yards and two scores. It was a memorable performance by Underwood, who caught just 23 passes for 290 yards in '06.
On defense, the Scarlet Knights were also dominant in the opener, allowing just one field goal and 235 total yards to Buffalo. The Knights, who ranked fourth in the nation in total defense (252.2 ypg) last season, gave up just 70 rushing yards on 34 carries. The unit didn't record a turnover, but it did post three sacks while also holding the Bulls to a 4-of-15 effort on third-down conversion attempts. Kevin Malast led the RU defense with 10 tackles and half a sack, while George Johnson posted a pair of sacks.
This should be an interesting matchup, as both teams like to run the ball as much as possible. Rutgers, however, has a big edge on defense and that, along with another big effort from Rice, is why it should come out on top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 34, Navy 17
Re: Friday Football
CFB: Navy at Rutgers (Friday 7:00 PM ET - ESPN)
The much-adored tradition of ESPN Friday night College Football continues this week with a non-conference matchup between Rutgers and Navy. The Knights are better than a two-TD favorite and seem to have picked up where they left off last season.
Rutgers easily toyed with Buffalo in home opener 38-3, gaining 563 total yards in the rout and will face a much tougher assignment in playing the Naval Academy. It seems coach Greg Schiano stayed for a reason after many inviting job offers. One of the big pluses is the talent he has recruited returns a number of starters (13) and the replacements will not be a significant drop off. Running back Ray Rice keys the rushing game and looked in Heisman form in his opening effort. Rice rushed for 184 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. The extra year of experience worked wonders for quarterback Mike Teel, who also added a noteworthy effort as he completed 69.5 percent of his attempts for 328 yards and two scores. The junior signal is now 14-3 and 11-5 against the spread as a starter.
Head coach Paul Johnson has done an absolutely astonishing job at the Naval Academy in five plus years with 38-25 record (33-20-1 ATS) and taken the Midshipmen to four consecutive bowl games. More importantly at this institution, they have won four consecutive Commander-in-Chief Trophies after having not won one in 22 previous years. This year's task will be a tougher job with just three starters back on defense.
Offensively, a case could be made this might be the most explosive Navy team ever with Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada at quarterback and a fleet of speedy backs to make running game potent. Against Temple in the opener, Kaheaku-Enhada ran the offense like a bon vivant, rushing for 102 yards himself and dishing out on the option for another 259 yards. The Hawaii native won't dazzle anyone with his throwing, however his speed and decision making are exceptional in Johnson's option, which might leave him among the greats at Navy.
The Rutgers defense is not big; nonetheless they are aggressive and quick trying to replace four starters from the front seven. The Scarlet Knights will be fed a steady diet of option football, which means they must have the discipline, ironically enough of a military man, to carry out assignment and stop Navy's prodigious ground attack. Rutgers is 8-3 ATS taking on non-conference foes.
The early line of Rutgers favored by 12 was pounded by bettors and is now
17.5 at Sportsbook.com, despite the Midshipmen's 35-12 ATS record as a road underdog the last 15 seasons. This will be Navy's second straight road game and they are 2-6 SU and ATS against Rutgers.
This will be the second of five consecutive home games for Rutgers who can dish out a serious dose of (Ray) Rice to the Middies. If they become too focused on the run, Teel has shown he can wound teams with the passing game, leaving defensive coordinators transmogrified from genius status to jackals in the course of one football game.
No matter, Navy will gain plenty of yards, but it will be Rutgers piling up the points, as Coach Schiano will have his Scarlet Knights chopping wood again. With spread now at a much higher number, the potential for Navy to enter through the old backdoor to cover comes even more into play.