Navy Vaults Into Top 25 Following Upset Win Over Houston

An upset can go a long way. After knocking off previously undefeated and No. 6-ranked Houston 46-40 on Saturday, the Navy Midshipmen find themselves in the AP Top 25 College Football Poll for this first time this season.

Navy pulled off the upset despite the Cougars gaining 100 more yards on offense (484-382). The difference, as it normally is for Navy, was the ground game. Houston was gashed by that Navy ground game, which picked up 306 yards.

Greg Ward Jr. prepares to pass against Navy in the team's upset loss to the Midshipmen

The Cougars also turned the ball over three times. Meanwhile, Navy protected the ball, not turning it over once.

The weather certainly played a huge factor in this game. Where the Navy excels on the ground, the Cougars excel through the air. Stormy weather played right into the hands of Navy. It played right out of the hands, literally, of Houston’s star quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who fumbled once and threw two interceptions.

Navy fans were understandably excited about the upset win and rushed the field after the game.

The win is the second over a ranked opponent for Navy since 2009, and it is the first time the school has knocked off such a highly-ranked team in 32 years. That’s reason for Navy to celebrate in Annapolis.

Looking Forward:

One glance at Navy’s remaining schedule and you should realize this team could realistically run the table.

Navy’s 2016 Remaining Schedule:

  • Oct. 22 vs. Memphis
  • Oct. 28 @ South Florida
  • Nov. 5 vs. Notre Dame
  • Nov. 12 vs. Tulsa
  • Nov. 19 @ East Carolina
  • Nov. 26 @ SMU
  • Dec. 10 vs. Army

Notre Dame could be a tough test for Navy, but the Fighting Irish are just 2-4. They have lost every game by eight points or less. If Navy wants to pull that one out, they will likely have to win a close contest.

While Army is a very mediocre 3-2, you can usually throw records out the window in rivalry games. The teams are so familiar with one another, the playing field is leveled. Wouldn’t it be something if Navy entered that game on December 10 at 10-1?

What Does This Mean for Navy Historically?

Navy has been no stranger to success in the past decade plus. Since 2003, the team has had just one losing season. However, it hasn’t always been that way. According to the school, between 1978 and 2005, the team didn’t finish the season ranked in the AP 25 Poll once.

Navy football fans rush the field after upsetting No. 6 Houston at home.

Navy continues to trend upward after an 11-2 campaign in 2015, which resulted in a final AP Poll No. 18 ranking. Clearly, Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo has his team firing on all cylinders and double-digit wins is well within reach once again.

The Non-Power Five:

Only four teams in the AP’s latest Top 25 poll come from non-Power Five schools. Ironically, the highest-ranked of those is Houston, the team Navy upset, at No. 13. Boise State is ranked No. 15, while Western Michigan is ranked No. 24 just ahead of Navy, who sits at No. 25.

It is harder for non-Power Five schools to crack into the AP’s rankings because they generally have less exposure and a weaker strength of schedule. Now that they’re ranked, Navy should continue to be ranked as long as they keep winning, despite a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way.

Now the challenge for Navy will be staying in that Top 25 poll. If Saturday is any indication, though, the Midshipmen should have no problem doing that. We may not have seen the last party at Navy this season.

[Featured Image by Nick Wass/AP Images]