No. 22 SMU, Navy look to bounce back after losses

Surviving the wide-open American Athletic Conference race is a tricky task.One loss is survivable. Two can spoil the season.That’s the perch Navy and SMU sit on as they match up this week in what has become a competitive AAC rivalry. The Midshipmen visit the 22nd-ranked Mustangs on Saturday evening.Both teams lost last week, wrecking any plans for a smooth path to the AAC championship game. Getting back on the right track is on top of the to-do list for both.For the Mustangs (5-1, 2-1 AAC), that means continuing to evolve with a reshuffled deck on offense. They are expected to again be without receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. and tailback TJ McDaniel, both of whom were hurt in a win against Memphis on Oct. 3.Without those two and against a Cincinnati defense that is as stingy as any in the AAC, SMU managed only 290 yards last week — its lowest total since the second game of 2018 — during a 42-13 defeat.SMU coach Sonny Dykes didn’t mince words about his team’s performance and what the Mustangs must do to avoid a repeat.”I was disappointed with the way that we played,” Dykes said. “We just didn’t do the routine things that we typically do that would’ve given us a chance to be at least in the game.”I think we have to regroup, and we’re going to have to play better against Navy or the same thing will happen.”The Midshipmen (3-3, 3-1) can relate.In a 37-21 loss to Houston, the Cougars’ fast-paced offense exposed some defensive problems for Navy. Houston junior quarterback Clayton Tune peppered the Midshipmen defense for 316 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Now the Midshipmen have to brace for a better passing attack engineered by a veteran quarterback who has been with his coaching staff longer.