• Navy (3-5, 3-3 in the AAC) and Cincinnati (6-2, 3-1 in the AAC) meet for the sixth time overall and for the fourth and final time in the regular season as American Athletic Conference foes when the two square off on Saturday afternoon (4:00 pm) at Nippert Stadium (40,000) in Cincinnati.
• Last year, Navy played the #2-ranked Bearcats closer than anybody in the regular season, falling 27-20 in Annapolis. Cincinnati finished 13-1 in 2021 with its only loss coming against #1-ranked Alabama 27-6 in the College Football Playoff.
• Cincinnati has won an incredible 30-consecutive home games, which is the second-longest active streak in the country behind Clemson, who has won 38-straight games at home. Cincinnati last lost at home on Nov. 10, 2017, to Temple 35-24.
• Cincinnati beat Navy 42-0 in the Mids only trip to Nippert Stadium in 2018.
• Navy is the only team in the FBS that will not play a home game in the month of November. The Mids have 2 neutral site games (Nov. 12 vs. Notre Dame in Baltimore and Dec. 10 vs. Army in Philadelphia) and 2 road games (Nov. 5 at Cincinnati and Nov. 19 at UCF) remaining, in addition to a bye on Thanksgiving weekend. It marks the first time since 1988 that Navy will not have a home game in the month of November. Remarkably, in 1988, Navy played its final home game on Oct. 1 vs. Yale and then played 4 games on the road (Air Force, Pitt, Syracuse and South Carolina) and 2 neutral site games (Notre Dame in Baltimore and Army in Philadelphia) to finish 3-8.
• Navy starting quarterback Tai Lavatai was lost for the year in the first quarter of the Temple game with a left knee injury. Backup quarterback Xavier Arline, who came on to finish the Temple game and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 23-yard run in overtime, is expected to get the start. Arline is a two-sport athlete for Navy as he is also a starting attackman on the lacrosse team. Arline initially committed to North Carolina to play both lacrosse and football, but after a change in the Tar Heel football coaching staff, Arline decommitted and signed with Navy.
• Navy starts a combined 4 seniors on offense and defense, a mark that is tied with Cal, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Temple for the third fewest in the country.
• Navy has 14 players from the state of Ohio, which is the fourth most of any state. Florida and Texas lead the way with 21, while Maryland has 17.
• ESPNU will carry Saturday’s game with Kevin Brown (play by play) and Hutson Mason (color) on the call.
• Scott Wykoff will host a 30-minute pregame show on WBAL Radio (1090 AM) starting at 2:30 pm.
• The Navy Football Pregame Show with Pete Medhurst, Joe Miller, Keith Mills, Wykoff and special commentary from John Feinstein will get underway at 3:00 pm on the Navy Radio Network, followed by game action beginning at 4:00 pm with Medhurst, Miller and Mills on the call. Saturday’s radio coverage is presented by Navy Exchange.
• Following the contest, Medhurst, Miller, Mills and Wykoff will recap the day’s events in a 30-minute postgame show.
6-2 Overall | 3-1 AAC
Head Coach: Luke Fickell
• Cincinnati enters Saturday’s contest against the Mids with a 6-2 record and a 3-1 mark in the American Athletic Conference.
• Cincinnati has won an incredible 30-consecutive home games which is the second-longest active streak in the country behind Clemson, who has won 38-straight games at home. Cincinnati last lost at home on Nov. 10, 2017, to Temple 35-24.
• The Bearcats are led offensively by redshirt senior quarterback Ben Bryant, who has completed 165 of his 265 pass attempts for 2,059 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has thrown just 6 interceptions. Bryant started at Cincinnati, transferred to Eastern Michigan to gain playing time and then transferred back to Cincinnati once Desmond Ridder graduated.
• Bryant’s favorite targets are senior wide receiver Tre Tucker and junior wide receiver Tyler Scott. Tucker has 40 catches, including 10 last week against UCF, for 506 yards and a touchdown, while Scott has 32 catches for 547 yards and 6 touchdowns.
• Redshirt senior running back Charles McClelland has carried the ball 103 times for 667 yards and 6 touchdowns. McClelland is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, which ranks 11th in the country.
• Defensively, senior linebacker and Miami of Ohio transfer Ivan Pace Jr. has been a monster for the Bearcats, recording 82 tackles (11th in the country), 16 tackles for a loss (#1) and 7 sacks (#10) to go along with a forced fumble. Redshirt senior linebacker Ty Van Fossen has been in on 44 stops, 1.5 tackles for a loss and has forced a fumble.
• The Bearcat defense ranks #1 nationally in defensive touchdowns with 4, #1 in team tackles for loss (9.0/gm), #3 in sacks (3.8/gm), #9 in fourth down conversion defense (.312) and #13 in team passing efficiency defense (112.4).
• Cincinnati has top-notch special teams as its kickoff return defense is fifth best in the country (14.7 yds/return), net punting is #2 (45.1) and punt returns (13.5 yds/return) is #18.
• Sophomore punter Mason Fletcher is third in the country in punting, averaging 47.2 yards per punt.
• Cincinnati has done a tremendous job of developing its own players and not relying on the transfer portal. The Bearcats have just 15 transfers on their roster, including 5 from the autonomy 5.
• 2015 Naval Academy graduate Parrish Gaines is in his second season serving as a graduate assistant coach for the Bearcats.
• Gaines was a four-year starter at defensive back for the Navy football team from 2011-14 and served alongside fullback Noah Copeland as co-captains of the 2014 team. Gaines started 44-consecutive games for the Mids, the first 24 at cornerback and the final 20 at safety, and garnered First-Team FBS All-Independent honors his senior year. He helped lead Navy to an 8-5 record his senior year that included a 17-10 victory over Army and a 17-16 win over San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Gaines closed out his career by playing in the 90th East-West Shrine All-Star Game.
Navy’s Trends Under Niumatalolo
• Ken Niumatalolo, the longest-tenured coach in school history and in the American Athletic Conference, is in his 15th year as the Mids’ head coach.
• With 108-career wins, Niumatalolo is the winningest coach in school history.
• With his 10 wins against Army, he is the winningest coach in the history of the Army-Navy game.
• With 7 wins against Air Force, he’s the winningest Navy coach in the history of the Navy-Air Force game. Air Force’s Fisher DeBerry leads the Navy-Air Force series with 17 career wins.
• Navy is 68-19 under Niumatalolo when scoring first.
• Navy is 88-6 under Niumatalolo when entering the fourth quarter with the lead.
• The Mids are 73-19 under Niumatalolo when scoring 30 or more points in a game.
• Navy is 93-26 when holding the opposition to under 30 points.
• The Mids are 57-25 at home under Niumatalolo.
• The Mids are 101-57 when outrushing the opposition under Niumatalolo.
• Navy is 76-12 when having more total offense than the opposition under Niumatalolo.
• The Mids are 88-43 when winning the time of possession under Niumatalolo.
• Navy is 63-23 under Niumatalolo when scoring on its first possession (regardless of who had the ball first).
• When Navy scores a touchdown on its first possession of the game (regardless of who had the ball first) in the Niumatalolo era, its record is 53-16.
• When Navy starts the game with the ball in the Niumatalolo era and scores, the Mids are 19-6. When the Mids start the game with the ball and go down and score a touchdown, the record is even better at 14-3.
• Navy is 39-60 under Niumatalolo when the opponent scores first in the game.
Double The Fun
• Navy owns a 9-5 record all-time in overtime games, including a 2-0 mark this year. The Mids won at East Carolina (23-20) in double overtime on Sept. 24 and then beat Temple (27-20) in overtime last Saturday in Annapolis.
• It is the first time Navy has played 2 overtime games in a single-season since 2013 when Navy lost to Toledo 45-44 in double overtime and defeated San Jose State 58-52 in triple overtime.
• Navy has won 2 overtime games in the same season for the first time since 2009, when the Mids beat Air Force 16-13 and won at SMU 38-35.
• Navy is 4-1 all-time in games that go multiple overtimes.
• Since 2006, Navy has won 53 one-possession games, a mark that leads the country during that time period.
• The Mids are 2-3 in one-possession games this year, losing to Delaware by 7, beating East Carolina by 3 in double overtime, losing to Air Force by 3, losing to SMU by 6 and beating Temple by 7 in overtime.
Navy Defense Tough Against The Run
• The Navy defense ranks 8th in the country against the run, giving up just 92.1 rushing yards per game.
• Navy has given up just 5 rushing touchdowns, which is tied for the 7th fewest in the country.
• The Mids are giving up just 3.2 yards per carry, which ranks 16th in the country.
• Navy gave up 13 yards on 29 carries to Delaware, 91 yards on 32 carries to Memphis, 103 yards on 28 carries to East Carolina, 200 yards on 47 carries against Air Force (the #1 rushing team in the country, 336.8 yds/gm), 25 yards on 18 carries against Tulsa, 105 yards (74 on one run) on 21 carries against SMU, 180 yards on 34 carries against Houston and 20 yards on 20 carries against Temple.
Marshall Having Big Year
• Senior striker and team captain John Marshall was in on a career-high 15 tackles in Navy’s loss to Memphis on Sept. 10. His previous best was 10 against Army in 2020.
• The 15 tackles by Marshall were the most by a Navy player since Cody Peterson and DJ Sargenti recorded 18 tackles each in the Mids’ triple overtime win over San Jose State in 2013.
• Marshall had an incredible game against Temple, recording 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 quarterback hurries and broke up 5 passes.
• The 5 pass breakups against Temple are the most by a Navy player since at least 2000 and the mark is tied for the third most in the FBS this year. He had 3 tackles and a pass breakup in Temple’s 6 overtime plays. He entered the Temple game with 5 CAREER pass breakups.
• Marshall leads the Mids in tackles (62), tackles for loss (10), pass breakups (6), quarterback hurries (5) and is second in sacks (4).
Busic Leads The Navy Sack Exchange
• Navy has recorded 20 sacks in its first 8 games this season after recording just 16 sacks all of last year (12 gms).
• The 20 sacks by the Mids are the most since 2019 when Navy recorded 30 sacks.
• Last week, Navy recorded 4 sacks against a Temple team that had given up just 4 sacks all year.
• Junior defensive end Jacob Busic leads the Mids with 6 sacks, while senior striker John Marshall has 4 and sophomore linebacker Tyler Fletcher has 3.
• Ten different Mids have recorded at least a half a sack this season, only 2 of which are seniors (Marshall and Nicholas Straw).
• The 6 sacks by Busic are the most by a Navy player since 2019 when Jacob Springer recorded 8 sacks.
• Busic has also caused 2 fumbles and recovered one of those (against Air Force) and has 4 quarterback hurries. The other caused fumble was against Houston and sophomore linebacker Jianni Woodson-Brooks picked it up and returned it for a touchdown.
• Navy has recovered 9 fumbles this year, which is tied for the 8th most in the country.
• The 9 fumble recoveries are the most by a Navy team since 2019 when the Mids recovered 10.
• Sophomore safety Rayuan Lane III leads the Mids with 2 fumble recoveries, while 7 other players have recovered a fumble this fall. The 2 fumble recoveries are tied for the eighth most in the nation.
COURTESY NAVY ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS