The BYU Cougars (0-0) and Navy Midshipmen (0-0) will have the opportunity to showcase their programs on national television Monday night. The game will be the first season for both teams after a delayed start due to the global pandemic. Kickoff for the Labor Day special is at 8 p.m. CST at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. BYU is a slight -1.5 favorite in the season opener, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – BYU Cougars
Playing as an independent, the Cougars finished the 2019 season with a 7-6 record and a 4-point loss against Hawai’i in the SoFi Hawai’i Bowl. BYU will play a modified eight-game schedule this year.
Junior quarterback Zach Wilson brings back experience under center for the Cougars. Morris has thrown for 3,960 yards and tossed 23 touchdowns over the last two seasons for BYU. Matt Bushman, one of Wilson’s returning primary targets and potential All-American, suffered a season-ending injury in camp. Without Bushman, the Cougars suffered a massive blow in the red zone, trying to improve their 120th out of 130th scoring ranking.
BYU’s defensive line and its linebacking core will have to play sound football to slow down Navy’s rushing attack. The Cougars have depth at linebacker, and that core will need to play sound football on Monday night.
What to Know – Navy Midshipmen
Navy finished last season 11-2 and on a 4-game winning streak. In American Athletic Conference play, Navy finished 7-1. The Midshipmen put the final touches on a successful season with a 20-17 Liberty Bowl victory over Kansas State. Navy led the nation in rushing, averaging 360.5 yards per game.
Malcolm Perry is gone, and senior Daniel Morris will take over at quarterback for Navy. Perry ran the triple option to perfection, rushing for 2,017 yards last season. Morris has appeared in four games in the previous two seasons.
Additionally, on offense, Navy returns a pair of fullbacks in Jamale Carothers and Nelson Smith. The two combined for 1,314 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns last season.
Navy, with their triple-option offense, will look to control the clock Monday night with their tempo. It will be interesting to see if Morris can bring the same explosiveness to the Navy offense that Perry did.
The Pick is In
BYU returns a veteran offensive line and some skilled players from last season’s team while the Midshipmen will have to replace a starting QB who helped guide Navy to an 11-2 record last year. If this game were taking place during the season with only a week of preparation, we would side with Navy and their unique offense. However, the Cougars have had a few weeks to prep for the Midshipmen, and its offense should have no issues with the Navy defense. Take BYU -1.5 in this one and be comfortable with your selection.