Navy Midshipmen (0-2) at Duke (1-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C.
TV/Radio: TV: None; Radio: 980-AM, 1090-AM, 1430-AM.
Last Meeting: Navy beat the Blue Devils, 27-12, last year.
Series: Navy leads, 17-12-5.
Importance: This is a must-win game for the Midshipmen if they are to earn the six victories needed to become eligible to play in a bowl game. Navy still has games against Air Force (2-2) and Notre Dame (3-1), and a loss to the Blue Devils would leave little room for error the rest of the season.
Outlook: Navy Coach Paul Johnson is concerned about how his team will respond in its first game since a 41-38 loss to Stanford on Sept. 10. Navy had an open date on Sept. 17, and its game against Rice on Saturday was postponed to Oct. 22 because of Hurricane Rita.
"I understand the decision to postpone the game against Rice, and it was the right decision, but anytime you have to go this long in between games is tough," Johnson said. "Right now, all we're trying to do is win our first game: I'm not worried about winning six. We're 0-2, so I think our guys feel a sense of urgency, or at least they better feel it."
Duke lost, 38-7, last Saturday in Charlottesville, turning over the ball four times and allowing Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans to throw four touchdowns.
Both Navy and Duke have quarterback problems. Navy senior starter Lamar Owens suffered cramps in the second half of each of the first two games, forcing junior Brian Hampton to step in. Owens is the better quarterback; he has completed 17 of 29 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown and has rushed for 130 yards on 29 carries. Hampton completed three of 10 passes for 55 yards when he entered in the fourth quarter against Stanford.
Duke junior quarterback Mike Schneider was pulled midway through the first quarter Saturday after fumbling and throwing an interception. But Zack Asack didn't fare much better, completing seven of 13 passes for 87 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown.
Schneider "fumbled a couple of weeks in a row," Coach Ted Roof said. "I'm not down on Mike Schneider, but he's got to take better care of the football."
Both teams expect to run the ball, as Navy utilizes a triple-option attack that depends on slot backs Marco Nelson and Karlos Whittaker. Nelson, a senior, gave the finest performance of his career against Stanford when he scored three touchdowns and finished with 34 yards rushing and 98 yards receiving. Also in that game, Whittaker, a freshman, had seven carries for 110 yards -- highlighted by a 44-yard touchdown run -- to become just the second plebe to rush for more than 100 yards in a game.
Duke has sophomore running back Justin Boyle, who has rushed for 183 yards and four touchdowns on 43 carries.
Defensively, Navy yielded 40 points combined in the second halves of the Maryland and Stanford games.
"In our first two games, if we could have made just one or two stops we'd have won both games," said junior cornerback Jeremy McGown. "We would just make a mistake by missing an assignment, and you can't do that if you're going to win."
-- Jon Gallo