In 2015, Navy broke a 134 year tradition of playing as an independent by joining the American Athletic Conference (AAC). So far, so good for the Middies who have won the West division in their first two years in the league. That type of success will be hard to duplicate in 2017 as they have their work cut out for them with a re-tooled offense and a brutal overall road schedule.
It’s been quite an impressive run here for head coach Ken Niumatalolo. He’s compiled a 77-42 record in his 9 years. Niumatalolo’s job last year is all the more impressive when you consider that their starters lost 102 games to injury and that the team still led the nation in 3rd down conversions.
Niumatalolo has his work cut out for him this year and for the first time in his tenure will be starting a season off losses to the other two service academies.
Previous Season ATS Records & Key Betting Stats
2017 Navy Football Schedule Breakdown
This year, this team gets tested right off the bat with a trip to Florida Atlantic. They then have two must win home games against Tulane and Cincinnati before traveling to Tulsa is a game that will go a long way in determining the AAC West. It’s tough going the rest of the way with road games at Memphis, Temple, Notre Dame, and Houston. In recent years the Commander and Chief Trophy was merely a formality, but this year finds them off losses to Air Force and Army for the first time since 2001.
Navy Roster Changes, Depth Chart & Top Recruits
The question this year and last year has been at quarterback. Last year, it would be who would replace Keenan Reynolds, a four-year starter and AAC offensive Player of the Year who owns every Navy offensive record and several NCAA records that included 88 touchdowns on the ground. Tago Smith won the job out of camp but was hurt and out for the year in the first half of the first game. Will Worth took over and after taking a couple of games to get going, led an offensive juggernaut that ran roughshod over the AAC.
Junior Zach Abey gets his chance to take over the offense and is just one of four other returning starters on defense. Chris High (84, 559, 7 TDs) is only returning back with experience and Darryl Bonner (10, 278, 3 TDs) is a deep threat at wide out in the seldom-used passing attack. Abey will need to be able to throw the ball some, something he was unable to do last year in the second half of the AAC Championship game against Temple and against a jacked up Army team in that classic.
The defense returns a nice core nucleus of seven players including most of the back seven who are all upper-classmen, a positive in the high-octane AAC. Navy will need immediate help on the offensive line where only Jarvis Polu, a solid pressure pass rusher who can also stop the run returns. Third year DC Dale Pehrson (22 years at Navy) will need to find some size up the middle at nose tackle and run some blitz packages to take advantage of an outstanding corps of linebackers.
Future Odds: Chances to Win the Conference & National Championship
Regular Season Win Total
AAC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
Navy Football Full Team Season Record Projections
Every year, people think of ways to bury Navy and every year the Middies prove that they are made of better stuff. The Midshipmen are 77-42 in nine years under Ken Niumatalolo, going to bowls in all nine years. A lack of experience and just 11 returning starters has pundits dismissing Navy once again in 2017. We don’t think that will happen.
Navy plays the game right. They don’t turn the ball over despite running the option and every year the Midshipmen are top five in the country in the least amount of penalties committed. Navy has a killer schedule with six tough road games and the games versus the Air Force, Notre Dame, and Army are always wars.
Navy will win some games and will certainly be live dogs in the games they are not favored. We have the Middies losing at Tulsa and splitting with Memphis and Houston. At Notre Dame with the Irish in a revenge spot will be tough and there figures to be another loss along the way.
Navy needs a lot of things to go right for them to reach our 2017 projection of eight wins. New quarterback Zach Abey needs to perform right out of the gate, the Middies have to stay healthy, and continue their amazing run on the road. The September 1st opener at a much improved Florida Atlantic in Lane Kiffin’s debut could very well set the tone for the rest of the season.
American Athletic (West)
American Athletic Record
Win Total Prediction