Navy-Central Florida Breakdown: An in-depth look at the matchup

NAVY KEY: NO NEGATIVE PLAYS

One of the biggest issues plaguing the Navy offense this season has been negative plays. Penalties, sacks and runs that result in a loss have repeatedly set back the Mids. In a season when the offense has struggled with consistency, those negative outcomes have been drive killers. Navy simply has not been capable of overcoming second-and-15 situations. Meanwhile, Central Florida ranks fifth nationally in tackles for loss, averaging 8.6 per game. Defensive end Titus Davis leads the Knights with 10 ½ tackles for loss while defensive end Brendon Hayes and defensive tackle Trysten Hill have recorded 6 ½ apiece.

CENTRAL FLORIDA KEY: SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN

Quarterback McKenzie Milton directs an explosive attack that ranks third nationally in total offense (548.8 total yards) and sixth in scoring offense (45.4 points per game). Navy fell behind 27-0 at halftime against Notre Dame and 28-0 at intermission versus Cincinnati. The Midshipmen simply have not shown any ability to rally from big deficits this season. The Knights could put this game away by scoring three or four touchdowns in the first half.

INJURY REPORT: Navy – Starting safety Jake Springer (undisclosed) is probable; Backup left tackle Kendel Wright (lower body) and is questionable. Central Florida – Linebacker Demetrius Hayes (suspension) is out.

SERIES HISTORY: UCF won the lone meeting between the schools 31-21 last season in Annapolis

OF NOTE: Navy has lost six straight games for the first time in 2011. In that season, the Midshipmen turned things around and won three of their final four contests – closing the campaign by beating archrival Army.

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Navy’s last victory over a ranked opponent came in October, 2016 when it upset No. 6 Houston. The Midshipmen also knocked off Memphis when it was ranked No. 15 in 2015.

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Central Florida has the longest winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision at 21 games

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Central Florida has dominated defensively during the third quarter or games this season. The Knights have held five of eight opponents scoreless in the third quarter.

QUOTE-UNQUOTE: “People have been sending me real nice emails, almost like condolence messages. We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to keep fighting. This is what life is all about. There are bad days and setbacks. When adversity comes, you have to deal with it. This current situation is a great lesson in leadership – not just in terms of the military, but also being a husband and a father.”

— Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo

“There is a lot of outside noise. The only thing we talk about within our program is the next opponent. We understand the test you have every single week in this league. When I was a coach outside of this league, I had a great amount of respect for the programs. When you look at this league, there are a lot of schools that have played good football for a long time.

Being in the conference now, I have an even greater appreciation for it. You have to bring it every single week.”

— Central Florida head coach Josh Heupel

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