Can Navy go undefeated in 2010?

The 2010 Navy Midshipmen are poised for another tremendous season. Last year's blowout win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl produced the third 10-win season in Navy's history. This year's schedule is less demanding than 2009's slate with the Mids facing only four teams that appeared in bowl games last year. Look inside to see Jim Lawler's prediction for Navy's 2010 season.

The expected marquee games are against Maryland, Notre Dame and Wake Forest who posted a combined underwhelming record of 13-23 last year. The timing was right in scheduling East Carolina and Central Michigan since both these conference division champions lost their star offensive players and each have new head coaches. The wide open passing attack of SMU and fellow service academy Air Force may give Navy more trouble than the higher profile programs on the schedule.

The Midshipman return six starters on an offense that finished the season ranked fourth in team rushing at 280.9 yards per game while averaging 28-points per game. Navy's defense came of age last year as it ranked 16th in nation in scoring defense. The Mids return their two best defensive players, team captain Wyatt Middleton and defensive end Jabaree Tuani. In the kicking game Navy returns first team All-East performer Joe Buckley and one of the best punters in Navy history in Kyle Delahooke.

Navy does have concerns. Namely it needs to find replacements for Marcus Curry at slot back, all four starting linebackers and two starters on the offensive line. The good news for Navy is the Mids have the talent and depth to fill their needs. Overall, according to the offseason workouts, this is the fastest team Navy's put on the field in the triple option area.

This can be a special season for Navy. The schedule breaks well for them. If the new linebackers play is solid then the sky's the limit. There is no team on the schedule that Navy doesn't match up rather well against. A perfect season with Ricky Dobbs making a run at the Heisman? Navy fans can all hope. I think 10-2 is more likely. It's amazing to see how far this program has risen since 2001 that another eight win season would probably be viewed as a disappointment. Navy has won at least eight games for a school record seven consecutive years. Let's look at each game.

Maryland
The interstate matchup resumes in the newly named "Crab Bowl". Navy and Maryland meet at M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since 2005. Last year Maryland suffered 10 losses from the first time in their history. Defensive coordinator Don Brown's game plan gave the Mids fits in 2006 when he was head coach at UMass. Jamarr Robinson is a talented mobile quarterback. He might need to be behind a rebuilt offensive line featuring two walk-ons as starters. Halfback Da'Rel Scott speed should test the inexperienced Mid linebackers. Navy Win

Georgia Southern
The remember Paul Johnson Bowl. This date was scheduled when PJ was still coaching. It's a game that features the schools where Johnson first spent time as a very successful offensive coordinator before returning years later to lead the programs to glory as head coach. It was at Georgia Southern with Tracey Ham at quarterback that the spread option was created. Georgia Southern returns this year to their spread option roots under new head coach and former Navy slot back coach Jeff Monken. Navy Win

At Louisiana Tech
The Bulldogs gave the Mids a scare last year when they jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Navy then scored the next 32 points in a 32-14 win. With Derek Dooley leaving for Tennessee former Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes takes the reins. Look for Tech to be a more wide open team under Dykes. Dangerous wide receiver and return man Phillip Livas, who has six career returns for touchdowns, is back. Once Navy's offense got rolling last year Tech's defense struggled. The Mids should make it two consecutive wins over Louisiana Tech Navy Win

At Air Force
Navy travels to Colorado Springs as it tries for its eighth straight win in the series. The last few years have featured bruising defensive battles. The Falcons offense returns all its skill positions but has to rebuild the entire offensive line. Air Force's defense loses its talented coordinator, former Navy assistant coach, Tim DeRuyter to Texas A&M. Navy's centers will be glad to no longer have to face star nose tackle Ben Garland. It should be a great game. Navy has had the Falcon's number. Navy Win.

At Wake Forest
Navy defeated the Demon Deacon in the rain at Annapolis last year behind backup quarterback Kriss Proctor. Wake Forest lost long time starting quarterback Riley Skinner to graduation. Defensively Kenny Okoro, who had three interceptions last year, is an impact player. Wake Forest is very young and their kicking game is poor but Jim Grobe is one of the better coaches around. Wake Forest will be a challenge on the road but I believe the Mids are the better team. Navy Win

SMU
In two short years run and shoot offensive genius June Jones has rebuilt SMU. The Mustangs dominated Nevada in their first bowl appearance since they returned from the NCAA death penalty. Navy struggled against SMU before defeating them in overtime, 38-35, on a Joe Buckley field goal. Navy has yet to face sophomore quarterback Kyle Pardon. Pardon replaced the injured Bo Levi Mitchell and won five of his last six starts throwing for 10 touchdowns. SMU's defense struggles against the run. Other than the Missouri game, Buddy Green's bend but don't break defenses have had problems at times against passing that can spread the field. It will be a shootout and Navy can't win them all. Or can they? Navy Upset Loss

Notre Dame
After forty-three years of futility, Navy has now won two of the last three in the series. New head coach Brian Kelly brings his wide open spread passing game to the Irish. The Irish lack a proven quarterback in the system but Kelly's offenses have always been productive. Star wide receiver Michael Floyd returns. Notre Dame's defense will play a 3-4. With the subway alumni at the new Meadowlands Stadium this will be essentially an Irish home game. Navy Loss

At Duke
The Mids have defeated Duke four of the last five meetings in exciting wide open games. Navy lost its last appearance at Durham when Kaipo was knocked out of the game. Navy fans are glad to see quarterback Thaddeus Lewis graduate. Lewis completed over 67% of his passes for 926 yards and eight touchdowns in three career starts against the Mids. New quarterback Sean Renfree came off the bench ]last year to lead a comeback win against Army. Duke's defense lost their best players from last year. Navy Win

At East Carolina
After winning consecutive Conference USA titles the, Pirates have a new head coach and new offense. The new coach is Ruffin McNeill from Texas Tech who brings a more wide open attack to East Carolina. McNeill needs to totally rebuild his defense. Navy Win

Central Michigan
After appearing in four straight bowl games the Chippewas look to be in rebuilding mode. Star quarterback Dan LeFevour and his big play receivers, Bryan Anderson and Antonio Brown, are gone. CMU under new head coach Dan Enos will have to overhaul the receivers, running backs, quarterbacks and secondary. Navy defeated CMU 63-34 in 2003. Navy Win

Arkansas State
Arkansas State will bring its new no-huddle passing offense to Annapolis. The Red Wolves return 10 starters on a defense that led the Sun Belt conference in points allowed. Defensive tackle Bryan Hall is one of the best players in the Sun Belt conference. This is the first matchup between the two schools. Navy Win

Army
Navy has won a series record eight straight times in college football's greatest rivalry. Rich Ellerson brought his double eagle flex defense to West Point and produced the 16th ranked defense in the nation last year. The Black Knights return eight starters and should be a very solid defensive team again. Army's offense should be improved but they haven't scored a touchdown against Navy since 2006. The Black Knights are a lot better coached team under Rich Ellerson but they still lack Navy's talent and firepower. Navy Win

So I see it as a 10-2 regular season with an appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl.

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