TROY, Ala. – The assignments are clear for the defenses of Navy and Troy.
The Midshipmen (6-3) have to contain Trojans quarterback Corey Robinson and a dangerous passing offense in Saturday's game. Troy (4-5) must switch over from last week's passing festival with Tennessee to defending one of the nation's top running teams.
The Trojans are trying to bounce back from a 55-48 loss to Tennessee when Robinson, backup Deon Anthony and Tyler Bray combined for more than 1,000 passing yards.
"Now we are going from a team that spreads it out all over the field to a team that is very different, that is a dynamic option, play-action pass team that is very, very disciplined and normally very prolific," Troy coach Larry Blakeney said. "So we will have our hands full. We are getting into some must-win area and I hope we respond well to it."
Navy has already secured a spot in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Dec. 29 in San Francisco against a Pac-12 opponent. The Midshipmen have won five in a row and haven't had a six-game winning streak since the start of the 1979 season.
They're also facing an opponent that didn't present much of a problem last season in their first-ever meeting. Navy, which is 6-0 against Sun Belt Conference teams, jumped ahead 35-0 by halftime and won 42-14.
The game will present a contrast in styles.
Navy ranks seventh nationally in rushing, averaging 266.3 yards a game on the ground. Troy's defense is giving up an average of 168 rushing yards, 72nd nationally.
"They'll run a little reverse here and there," Blakeney said. "They're a good football team, offensively, but the main thing is they are so disciplined with their attack they make you be disciplined. If you get out of whack or you get out of position they are going to take advantage of it. They are well-oiled."
Robinson, meanwhile, directs a Troy offense ranked 15th nationally in both total and passing yards. He threw for 393 yards and Anthony added 103 against the Volunteers.
"This is a very good offensive football team. They have put up big numbers in terms of yards and points every week," Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. "Every time I've watched them on tape, it's up and down the field. They were clicking on all cylinders and in all phases — making some great throws and great catches while running the ball extremely well."
The Trojans also have a big deep threat in wide receiver Chip Reeves, who leads the Sun Belt Conference with 10 catches for 30-plus yards and has four 100-yard games.
"They have great receivers with great speed that can go get the ball. They have just killed people with the deep ball all season," Green said. "They do a really good job of sending guys deep and making you cover the vertical game, which opens up the underneath routes. They make your linebackers cover in space."