Week 1 of the college football season is nearly in the books, but there’s still one more game to be played. While there may have only been nine games on the docket because of COVID-19 concerns around the country, it’s still nice to have the sport back on our televisions. And what better way to put a bow on this opening week than with Navy taking on BYU in Annapolis. Primetime Labor Day games have become a staple of the college football season, so plenty of eyes will be watching the Midshipmen and Cougars battle it out.
The triple option offense that the Midshipmen employ is one of the most difficult offenses to defend, and BYU has only had a month to wrap its arms around the idea of shutting it down since the game is a replacement for Notre Dame’s cancelation of its game with Navy. Meanwhile, BYU returns a potential star at quarterback in junior Zach Wilson, who threw for 2,382 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games last season.
What will happen in the final game of the opening weekend of the season? Let’s break down the matchup and make a pick.
BYU: The Cougars have the quarterback. Who’s Wilson going to target, though? Tight end Matt Bushman — the team’s leading receiver last year — won’t play this season after rupturing his Achilles in practice. On top of that, their three leading wide receivers from last season are gone. If BYU is going to take advantage of Navy’s weakness on defense, it’ll have to do it with a new-look supporting cast. Any team that is looking to stop the triple option has to have smart, disciplined linebackers. BYU has that covered with all four of its starters returning to Provo.
Navy: The most obvious storyline for the Midshipmen is the absence of former quarterback Malcolm Perry. The three-year starter capped off his career by rushing for 2,017 yards as a senior, leaving big shoes to fill. Dalen Morris is the man charged with gilling them. The senior beat out presumed starter Perry Olsen for the starting job. Watching how Morris handles the decision-making required of quarterbacks in the triple option offense will be fascinating. The Navy defense is lacking depth and experience in the secondary, which bodes well for Wilson and the Cougars offense. The backend of the Mids defense better grow up in a hurry if it plans to keep this in arm’s reach.
Date: Monday, Sept. 7 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium — Annapolis, Maryland
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game prediction, picks
BYU is as disciplined as they come, and having a month to prepare — even though it wasn’t expected prior to the COVID-19 shutdown — will be the deciding factor in what should be a fun way to wrap up the first weekend of the season. Wilson will take lead his team on a march down the field in the final minutes to put Navy in a spot where it has to pass late in the game. It won’t be successful. Pick: BYU (-2)