November 17, 2015

Navy's past two opponents couldn't stop the Midshipmen's triple-option offense from running up the score.

The 19th-ranked team could keep the board spinning Saturday night against the one of the worst defenses in the country, which Navy might have to do to keep pace with Tulsa's high-powered offense.

Navy (8-1, 6-0 AAC) has run for more than 370 yards in each of its last three games, posting three of their top four yardage totals on the ground this season.

They rushed for 374 in a 45-20 victory at previously unbeaten and then-No. 15 Memphis on Nov. 7 before beating lowly SMU 55-14 last weekend.

Navy ran for 403 yards with Keenan Reynolds going for 137 and four touchdowns. The quarterback also threw a 72-yard TD in his team's highest-scoring performance of the year.

Reynolds will try to lead the Midshipmen to a fifth consecutive win and keep them on track for a potential deciding game in the AAC West Division at unbeaten Houston on Nov. 27.

If Navy can win the next two, it would host the league's inaugural championship game Dec. 5.

"It's like playoff football. Every game is important. Every week is important. The magnitude continues to grow," coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "These kids are a lot smarter than I am. They know how important each game is. What we've tried to do is focus on our preparation.

"Every week becomes bigger and bigger, but it's kind of cool to be in this situation."

Reynolds can secure another record Saturday after scoring an FBS-high 81st career rushing touchdown last week. He needs 66 rushing yards to top Napoleon McCallum's school mark of 4,179.

Navy can also match its 9-1 start from 1963 - when Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach was under center - when it visits Tulsa (5-5, 2-4).

The FBS' No. 2 rushing offense at 335.0 yards per game will face a Golden Hurricane team that ranks 115th in rush defense at 220.6. Tulsa is also near the bottom in total defense (532.4 ypg) and scoring defense (38.5 points).

It gave up 652 yards and 266 on the ground in a 49-38 loss at Cincinnati last Saturday.

Tulsa faced a triple-option team in a 40-21 win at New Mexico on Sept. 12, but the Lobos don't put their quarterback under center.

"(Navy is) obviously disciplined in what they do and difficult to prepare for," coach Philip Montgomery said. "It's just so vastly different. ... With the quarterback under center, everything hits quickly. The pace at which they play with is always a factor, and they've been doing it for a long time. They've playing with a lot of confidence."

Tulsa has stayed in contention to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2012 because of an offense that's generating 36.5 points and 526.6 yards per contest.

The Golden Hurricane rolled up 588 yards last weekend with Dane Evans throwing for 375 and two touchdowns. Ramadi Warren had 139 yards and two TDs on 14 carries, giving him a combined 307 yards and five TDs in the past two games.

"Tulsa scores a lot on people too. We have to go to their place, but we've just got to keep doing what we're doing," Niumatalolo said.

Navy and Tulsa have split two meetings with the Golden Hurricane winning the most recent 24-23 in overtime in 2006. The Midshipmen won 29-0 in their only visit to Tulsa in 2004.

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