ANNAPOLIS, NOV. 7 -- The Toledo Rockets figure to be straining at the launch pad when Navy's football team comes visiting Saturday afternoon.

Toledo is 8-1 and hoping for a bowl bid. It has won 14 straight at home and this is the dedication game of the renovated Glass Bowl.

For added fuel to fire up the Rockets, Coach Nick Saban was a Navy assistant in 1982, the last time the Mids had a winning season, and aides Tom Amstutz and Dean Pees spent the previous three years at Annapolis under dismissed head coach Elliot Uzelac.

"You know they'll be emotional and high," said Navy Coach George Chaump. "We're walking into a hornets' nest. They have every psychological advantage, all the odds in their favor."

However, since Chaump and his team declined to be "frightened out of our jockey shorts" when they faced Notre Dame last week, they are unlikely to raise any white flags Saturday. The motivation for the 3-5 Midshipmen is a first winning campaign in eight years, and there is no further margin for error.

"Our drive now is to win each game so we can have a winning season," Chaump said. "If we stub our toes, then mathematically we can't have a winning season. This is a big game in that respect, because we want to establish winning ways at the Naval Academy."

"It was encouraging to show against Notre Dame that we can play as a team, execute and get things done," said quarterback Alton Grizzard, who guided the Midshipmen to 31 points. "It was discouraging that it was another loss. I'm tired of losing."

Although the defensive unit yielded 52 points to Notre Dame, there was the rationalization that Navy was up against the nation's No. 1 team.

"We're still kind of up," said outside linebacker Mark Ellis. "After watching the film, we realized we could have done a lot better. We made mental mistakes that we shouldn't have and we have to make sure the same mental mistakes don't happen twice. We want to have a winning season, so this is a big game for us. We have to win."

The Rockets are coming off a 37-9 victory over Western Michigan in which they amassed 501 yards of total offense, 254 in the air. Their only loss was by one point at Central Michigan.

"They have a lot of experience, a lot of talent and their size is impressive," Chaump said. "The offense has been together as a unit for a long time, they've escaped the injury bug and their turnover ratio is exceptional {13 to 19}.

"They use a stunt 4-3 defense, which we haven't seen all year, and they're very stingy. Facing it for the first time will be challenging for us."

Toledo ranks 13th in the nation defensively, allowing 282 yards per game. The big man for the Rockets is Dan Williams, a 254-pound defensive end who has seven sacks and six other tackles for losses.

The offensive sparkplug is sophomore quarterback Kevin Meger, who passed for three touchdowns last week and ran for a fourth.

"Meger at times hasn't thrown as consistently as we'd like," Saban said in a conference call today. "He's a runner we've been trying to develop into a better passer and he's improving. But he's still more of a playmaker than a picturesque dropback passer."

This is Saban's first season as a head coach after serving as an aide at Kent State, Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio State, Navy, Michigan State and with the Houston Oilers. It has been a most successful debut, with the Rockets assured of at least a share of their first Mid-American Conference championship since 1984.

"We were picked to win the league championship, which put some pressure on us, but I'd rather be picked first than last and things have come together for us," Saban said.