Air Force at Navy
Secondary issues: Navy junior cornerback Jeremy McGown will miss the next three to four weeks after breaking his arm against Duke last week, causing the team to shuffle its secondary. Coach Paul Johnson, who would not comment on the specifics of the injury, said freshman Rashawn King will make his first start. Junior rover safety Keenan Little will move to right cornerback, replacing sophomore Greg Thrasher. Sophomore Dell Robinson will start at rover safety, and junior DuJuan Price remains at free safety. The secondary will face an Air Force offense that averages 171 passing yards and features senior wide receivers Jason Brown (22 catches, 432 yards, 2 TDs) and Greg Kirkwood (12 catches, 220 yards, 1 TD).
Ground ball: Navy ranks sixth in Division I-A with 260.7 rushing yards per game, while Air Force is eighth at 250.8. Navy's triple-option attack features senior quarterback Lamar Owens (42 carries, 236 yards, 1 TD), junior fullback Matt Hall (31 carries, 146 yards, 3 TDs) and freshman slot back Karlos Whittaker (11 carries, 132 yards, 2 TDs). Air Force relies on junior fullback Jacobe Kendrick (69 carries, 304 yards, 4 TDs) and junior quarterback Shaun Carney (82 carries, 265 yards, 3 TDs). Navy has struggled against the run, yielding an average of 190 yards per game.
Punch for Bowls: Navy still has to play Notre Dame (4-1) and Rutgers (3-1). Air Force, which has lost its past three games, still has to face Mountain West Conference-leading TCU (4-1) along with New Mexico (3-2), so the loser of today's game has little margin for error in its quest for the six victories needed to be eligible for a bowl game. "I think whichever team is the more urgent or plays like the more desperate team could be the one that wins the game," Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry said. "I told my team the other day, 'Don't forget to feel what it's like to win.' "
-- Jon Gallo