"The one thing we want to do is survive this game so we can play the other eight," Coach George Welsh of Navy said.
He was speaking only half in jest in discussing Saturday's game against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
"In the past, we've always had difficulty the next two weeks after a Michigan game because of the emotional and physical toll the game takes on us. The last time we played Michigan was in 1977, but I still remember."
Saturday's game will be the last in the series, which isn't expected to be resumed soon.
The Wolverines (1-1) are much bigger and faster than the Mids (2-0), but after tuneups against The Citadel and Eastern Kentucky, "now is as good a time as any to play them," Welsh said.
"Michigan could be the best team in the country and I'm excited about playing them, but it isn't our biggest game of the year. Air Force and Army are bigger.
"Why do we play Michigan? Money.
"And playing teams like Michigan helps us get some players here and those players help us beat Air Force and Army."
Even healthy, the Mids would be terribly overmatched, but they are going into the game with Eddie Meyers, the key to their offense, limping.
Meyers sustained a deep thigh bruise in last week's game against Eastern Kentucky and played only in the first quarter.
He was held out of practice Monday and Tuesday and was kept away from contact today.
"I guess you'd have to say he was probable," Welsh said of the third-leading rusher in Navy football history. "I'd like to use him some, because I don't want to go into a game like this with just two freshmen tailbacks. I'm not going to play Meyers if he isn't ready, though."
Napoleon McCallum is the No. 2 tailback and behind him is Rich Clouse.
"McCallum is good, but he's never been hit like he'll be hit Saturday," Welsh said. "If Meyers doesn't play, we won't run the tailback 40 times."
Tom Tarquinio will again start for Navy at quarterback, in spite of being outplayed the first two games by Marco Pagnanelli.
"Pagnanelli will get in late in the first quarter or early in the second, and we'll play it by ear from there," Welsh said.
Michigan started the season as the top-ranked team in the country, but was upset by Wisconsin in its opener. The Wolverines rebounded with a convincing, 25-7 victory over then-No. 1 Notre Dame last Saturday.
"I don't think any loss has a positive effect on a team," Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler said. "The only excuse we have for the Wisconsin game is that Wisconsin is a better team than people thought and we aren't as good as people thought."
Schembechler said it's difficult to evaluate Navy, "because this is its first big test, but we won't be taking them (the Mids) lightly."
The Wolverines' strength is in their lines and they have an all-America receiver in Anthony Carter and a flyer at tailback in Butch Woolfolk.
Sophomore Steve Smith has replaced the graduated John Wangler at quarterback. Wangler wasn't much of a runner, so Schembechler abandoned his option offense last season and threw the ball, mostly to Carter.