Philadelphia, PA – Navy has picked up where it left off in 2012 with a pair of wins to open the season. Going back to last year, the Midshipmen have won nine of their last 11 games.
Navy plays Western Kentucky on Saturday, just two years after clobbering the Hilltoppers in Bowling Green, 40-14. That year's Navy squad went 5-7 while Western Kentucky was 7-5.
This season, the Midshipmen are 2-0, including an easy, 41-35 road score at Indiana. The final margin of victory was only seven points but Navy never trailed in the game and led by 17 points on four different occasions.
Navy leads the nation in rushing and coach Ken Niumatalolo's club is ninth in scoring. Look for the Midshipmen, who were off last week, to pile up the points on an average Western Kentucky squad.
The Hilltoppers are going through a transition period with new head coach Bobby Petrino. They are ranked 92nd nationally in scoring defense and 95th in rushing defense - not the type of rankings that will improve after facing Navy. Don't forget, the Hilltoppers are without all four defensive line starters from 2012.
Western Kentucky lost three of its final four home contests a year ago and the lone win was a one-point victory as a double-digit favorite over North Texas. This season, the Hilltoppers have played just one home game, a win over FCS school Morgan State.
Brandon Doughty, the Hilltoppers' quarterback, has had a difficult start in 2013 as he has thrown eight interceptions in four games. Running back Antonio Andrews will get his share of yards, but in order for Western Kentucky to stay with Navy, it must have a balanced attack, which is highly unlikely.
Remember, the Hilltoppers have a game next Thursday night against a conference opponent, so this matchup might not mean as much to them as the contest at ULM.
Take Navy minus three points in the lone five-star play of the week.
Middle Tennessee is at BYU on Friday night and the Cougars are favored by 23 points.
It is true the Blue Raiders pounded Texas at home earlier in the season, but they also lost to Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium. This will be their third consecutive contest at home, which sounds great in theory, but they are 0-9 ATS in the third of three straight games in Provo, Utah, going back to 1998. One also has to wonder how they will react mentally on a short week coming off the loss to Utah, especially with Utah State coming up the following Friday.
Middle Tennessee has the defense to slow BYU down as the Blue Raiders rank in the top 20 nationally in interceptions, sacks and takeaways. On the other side, the Cougars have allowed eight sacks in three games while Taysom Hill has completed just 35 percent of his passes.
The Cougars are eighth nationally in rushing, averaging 307 yards per game, but the solid ground attack will only help to keep the clock running. Moreover, running back Jamaal Williams is day-to-day with a concussion, so it is possible he could miss the game.
The Blue Raiders are capable of scoring at least 17 points in this one considering they are averaging 31 this season. In addition, if they are trailing heading into the fourth quarter, their passing game is good enough to get a late touchdown versus a BYU secondary that is ranked 71st nationally in allowing 233 yards per game.
Take Middle Tennessee plus 23 points.
The other three-star play comes from the great state of Texas. TCU hosts SMU in a series that has been dominated by the Horned Frogs with 11 wins in the last 13 meetings. However, SMU has more than held its own covering eight of the last 10 games, including four in a row.
The Mustangs have gotten off to a terrible start this season with their lone win coming by one point against Montana State. Still, they covered their game versus Texas Tech, only losing by 18. Less than two weeks later, the Red Raiders dumped TCU, 20-10.
The Horned Frogs also have been playing below their potential having won just one game versus Southeastern Louisiana, a contest they led by only three points at halftime. TCU has a big conference matchup at Oklahoma on Oct. 5, so the Frogs might be caught looking ahead.
TCU has outscored SMU by just 18 points over the last three seasons. Now all of a sudden the Mustangs are getting almost three touchdowns.
Take SMU plus 20 points.
Take Tulsa -2.5 (Iowa State), Miami-Ohio +25 (Illinois), Wake Forest +29 (Clemson), Temple -8 (Idaho), Oregon State -11 (Colorado), UCF +7 (South Carolina), Nevada -7 (Air Force) and New Mexico +3 (UNLV).
Take Arkansas State +21 (Missouri).
THIS YEAR'S RECORD
After two weeks, my record stands at 25-26. The five-star plays are a 6-4 mark. the three-star selections went 1-2, so that record stands at 4-7. The two-star choices went 1-4 for a 7-9 overall record and the one-star picks went 3-1 for an 8-6 total.
THIS WEEK'S JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN"
1) Oregon, 109.5; 2) Alabama, 106; 3) Florida State, 102; 4) Louisville, 99; 5- T) Georgia and LSU, 98; 7) Texas A&M, 97.5; 8-T) South Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Baylor, 97; 12-T) Clemson, Washington, Oklahoma and Stanford, 95.5
(The Dirty Dozen is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)