BYU Cougars (0-0) at Navy Midshipmen (0-0)
College Football: Monday, September 7, 2020 at 8:00 pm (Jack Stephens Field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium)
The Line: Navy Midshipmen -1 -- Over/Under: 53 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The BYU Cougars and the Navy Midshipmen meet in college football action from Jack Stephens Field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Monday.
The BYU Cougars come into this season looking to take a step forward after back-to-back 7-6 overall records but 2019 saw the Cougars invited to the Hawaii Bowl, a game that the Cougars lost to the Hawaii Warriors by a final score of 38-34. Zach Wilson is back and expected to be the starter here after throwing for just under 2,400 yards and 11 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions, but don’t be surprised if Baylor Romney sees action in the backup role and Jaren Hall is there as well if need be. The problem is that BYU’s top three receivers from last year are no longer with the program, but the Cougars do still have Matt Bushman at tight end and Gunner Romney has shown flashes at receiver for BYU. The Cougars will also probably enforce a running back by committee offense with Sione Finau and Lopini Katoa seeing the bulk of the action in the Cougar backfield. Defensively, the Cougars have a strong base with 14 of their top 16 tacklers from last season returning including Kavika Fonua who led BYU in the linebacking group with a team-high 83 tackles last year. Chaz Ah You (possibly one of the best names in college football) is also back after leading the Cougars with 5.5 tackles for a loss last season which is going to be huge if BYU is to take another step forward with their defensive prowess this season.
The Navy Midshipmen are looking to carry forward some of their momentum after a strong 2019 season that saw the Middies make an 8-win leap from the year prior, going from 3-10 to 11-2, marking Navy’s third double-digit win season and 9th winning season under head coach Ken Niumatalolo. The goal for Coach N right out of the gate is replacing the catalyst for their option offense and that’s QB Malcom Perry, who had more than half of Navy’s 4,000+ rushing yards last season. Perry Olsen, a sophomore is expected to get the first crack at taking over the offense for the Midshipmen, but the option offense is so versatile with who can play where that it’s anyone’s guess as to who goes where. Navy also has some solid big play receivers, and we say big play because that’s what usually comes from a Navy pass with so many defensive players expecting run after run after run. Mychal Cooper and Ryna Mitchell are expected to be the two threats at wide receiver for the Middies when called upon. Defensively, it may be hard for the Midshipmen to improve on what they accomplished defensively, improving by 20 sacks and 43 tackles for a loss from the 2018 season, and it will be especially hard with four of the top five tacklers for a loss gone from Navy’s squad for this year. Diego Fagot is expected to anchor Navy’s linebacking group but other than that there are question marks up front and in the secondary with so many pieces from last year’s group needing to be replaced.
BYU is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games while the under is 3-0-1 in their last 4 games against the AAC. Navy is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 home games and 13-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games overall while the under is 7-2 in their last 9 games against the Independents.
I mean BYU’s numbers on the surface ATS are bad, but look at what they had to deal with. Blowout wins against UMASS, Idaho State and Liberty that they weren’t going to cover if we’re being realistic and being favored against a San Diego State team that’s pretty good offensively and following that up with the bowl game loss in a relative coin flip to Hawaii. BYU also has a bunch of pieces back. Navy on the other hand, run a lot of the same offense with the option, but finding guys to run it successfully and consistently at that can be tough and it will be a learning experience in real time. The option is a hard thing to prepare for even with the offseason to get ready, but I think even on the road, BYU should be favored here. Give me the Cougars and the free point here.