Keys: Navy at Houston

Houston welcomes alway tough Navy to TDECU in a pivotal game to end the Cougar's regular season slate. A few thoughts:

That taste in your mouth

The roller coaster 2017 Houston season took a dip down the track last week in New Orleans. After coming off two straight wins, including a high point upset against South Florida, the Tulane loss was tough to swallow. A hallmark of the 2016 Cougars was their inconsistency, seemingly able to win any game they were interested in. When they weren't interested, the Coogs struggled. The same is true in 2017. Navy is pivotal because a win puts everyone in a good mood, erases the struggle against Tulane and might place Houston in a better postseason bowl. A loss and the narrative changes dramatically. 

It's no secret

The Navy offense is predicated on beating you by a thousand cuts. They force you to play disciplined, assignment football and if you don't Navy is patient and efficient enough to grind you into dust. The dominant 2016 Houston rush defense allowed 2.91 yards per rush, second in the FBS, but Navy ran for almost five yards a carry in their upset win. This year's Houston rush defense is good, but by no means dominant. If Houston can't stop the run, especially the Navy rush game between the tackles, it'll be a long day for the Cougars. 

About that Houston Backfield

Duke Catalon, Dillon Birden, and Mulbah Car are all banged up in the Houston backfield. The Cougars will turn to Davion Mitchell and Patrick Carr, assuming Catalon's knee and Birden's elbow aren't ready. Birden's injury was supposed to be season-ending, but Applewhite announced that he might play on Friday, miracle of miracles. Mitchell and Carr have combined for 18 carries this season, averaging 3.8 and 3.2 yards per carry respectively. D'Eriq King's introduction to the starting lineup at quarterback helps, two of the top three rushing games for Houston in 2017 have come in his starts. Any rushing attack against Navy probably comes from King. 

Notes and Numbers

Houston leads the series with Navy 2-1.

The game will determine second place in The American West Division behind division champion Memphis. 

Ken Niumatalolo is in his 10th year at Navy, making him the longest-tenured coach in school history.

His 83 career wins also makes him the winningest coach in school history. 

Navy has 24 players from the state of Texas, which makes the Lonestar State the most represented among the 31 states represented on Navy’s roster. 

The #HTownTakeover defense is also taking the ball away in the air, ranking No. 21 nationally with 13 interceptions while safety Garrett Davis and Terrell Williams are tied for second in The American and 10th nationally with four interceptions. 

Houston has held four of the ve top-26 scoring o enses its faced to well below their average in No. 6 Arizona (Avg. 42.9 points per game/16 vs. Houston), No. 10 SMU (40.1/game/22 vs. Houston), No. 16 USF (37.9/game/24 vs. Houston) and No. 26 Texas Tech (35.0/game/27 vs. Houston).

D'Eriq King picked up his rst career 100-yard rushing game at Tulane, rushing for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 10 attempts. 

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