The Cincinnati Bearcats have surprised more than a few people with their strong start to the 2017 season. The Bearcats find themselves at a 2-1 record with their only loss coming to the Michigan Wolverines back in Week Two (below). Navy however is coming off of a bye in Week Three but remain undefeated at 2-0 with an impressive win against Lane Kiffin’s FAU and a not-so impressive win against Tulane.
Although, I have this matchup listed as the American Conference matchup to keep an eye on, oddsmakers have disagreed giving Navy the title of two-possession favorites. I don’t see as quite as one-sided. Navy is coming off a mediocre performance against Tulane and then a bye week so their team is a big question mark right now. Cincy on the other hand has impressed me so far this year. It’s college football though, anything can happen so here are my keys to the game for both teams if they want to walk out of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium with the win.
Bearcats Keys to the Game
- Somehow Contain Navy QB Zach Abey. If there is a main reason that the Midshipmen are still undefeated, that reason would be Zach Abey. Abey is a not-so dual threat quarterback mainly known for his running ability. The Navy QB has already racked up 343 yards rushing in just two games while he also has another 242 yards passing with an even TD to interception ratio.
- Hayden Moore Needs to Figure It Out. The Cincy defense is pretty solid but late in games they are just too beaten up since their offense can’t stay on the field. If Bearcats quarterback Hayden Moore (above) can lead some long drives to give his defense a breather then Cincinnati could be in business.
- Run Commit and Watch for the Option. It is no surprise that Navy is not going to beat you with their passing game so don’t be afraid to commit to the run. Keep a quarterback spy or maybe even two on Zach Abey. If you force Abey to drop back and pass he can make some mistakes.
Midshipmen Keys to the Game
- Spread Out the Bearcat Defense. The Midshipmen need to have some option sets with multiple wide receivers in order to give Zach Abey (above) and company some room to run. The Bearcats will be game planning for the option so some spread option sets will open up the passing game, the play action option game and the option game.
- Control the Clock. The achilles heel for the Cincinnati team has been their defensive struggles to play a full game. Partially due to the Bearcat offense’s inability to put together a good drive, causing the defense to spend the vast majority of the game on the field without rest. If Navy can force the Cincy defense to play fatigued then this one will a walk in the park for the Midshipmen.
As I mentioned earlier, I fully anticipate this game to be a good one. I’m a little bias being a Navy fan but either way this is a matchup you won’t want to miss. I’m going to roll with the Midshipmen in game that was closer than the score indicates due to some garbage time points. I’ll predict Navy wins by a score of 29-20.
Cover Photo via Zimbio
Article Photos via Capital Gazette, Cincinnati Vs Everybody and USA Today