Key Matchups: Army vs. Air Force

Wes Cobb (Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE)

The ninth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 164, 1-7) and rival Mountain West Air Force Falcons (Sagarin 79, 5-3.) Air Force leads the all-time series 32-13-1 and have thoroughly dominated this series over the last 22 years by winning 20 of the 22 contests. Last year Air Force won in Colorado Springs 24-14.

Background
The ninth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 164, 1-7) and rival Mountain West Air Force Falcons (Sagarin 79, 5-3.) Air Force leads the all-time series 32-13-1 and have thoroughly dominated this series over the last 22 years by winning 20 of the 22 contests. Last year Air Force won in Colorado Springs 24-14. Air Force will become bowl eligible with a victory. Army begins the second phase of this horrendous season, looking to salvage what they can by taking the first step in winning the Commander in Chief's Trophy for the first time in 15 years.
Last Week
At West Point, NY – Army nearly overcame a 14 point first quarter deficit, but came up short in a 30-22 loss to the Ball State Cardinals.
Army was significantly outweighed on the defensive line and Ball State employed a read option offense, where the quarterback was in shotgun and his running back stood together with him for a couple seconds, the back got the ball standing still on nearly every single running play, and then he picked a hole. The offensive line did not execute typical blocks, but rather pushed the Army defensive line while standing. Zach Watts and company fought valiantly, but they were embarrassingly pushed around. It was a brilliant offense utilized by the Cardinal Staff. The going was so easy that the Cardinals continued to utilize this play. This shortened the game and deterred the Cardinals from passing. The Cardinals scored on 6 of 9 drives, but settled for 3 field goals. Overall Ball State gained 413 total yards, 224 rushing and 189 passing. Keith Wenning was 18/27 with an interception and 2 touchdowns. This was probably Army's best defensive effort in 2012 and it seems as though the freshmen and sophomores are learning to play at this level.

The Army offense did not have one of their better games. With Larry Dixon out, Junior Hayden Tippet filled in well, gaining 100 yards on 20 carries. Steelman gained 101 yards on 17 carries. Steelman was 3/5 for 38 yards and with any luck, he would have been 5/5. The Cadets tried the old RB pass, but Patrick Laird was not able to hold onto the Maples pass. Army gained 379 total yards and were held to 341 on the ground. The Cardinal Defense was ready for the option and the Cadets were just too predictable. If Army had converted a missed field goal and not fumbled a possession, they may have taken this game to a final possession. Overall, Army did not give this game away, they were simply beaten – which is a little easier to accept. Of course, it is alarming how everyone associated with the football program seems to be accepting of all the losing, except for the senior and/or more experienced players who have had enough and either attempted to speak out or who simply decided to leave the team. We are at a loss to understand why Coach Ellerson is having a hard time getting quite a few of his senior "leaders", kids who grew up at West Point on his watch, to want to play for him.

In Colorado Springs, CO – In a nationally televised Friday night game, the Air Force Falcons gained 600 yards of offense and they held the nation's leading running back, Stefphon Jefferson to 93 yards, in their 48-31 victory over the Wolf Pack.

Senior Wes Cobb, filling in for an injured Cody Getz, ran for a career-high 152 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.

The Falcons limited the Wolfpack to 380 yards in 25 minutes.

What to look for?
This game will feature the two top rushing attacks in college football. It will also feature two of the worst passing attacks. The Air Force defense is mediocre, giving up 4 touchdowns a game. The Army defense is near the bottom at 37 points a game. Air Force does not play well on the road, Army does not play well anywhere, but they do play much better when they are at Michie. Both teams give up more than 400 yards a game and are very weak against the run. Both teams also have a tendency to fumble often.

This rivalry has not been a contest for two decades. In the past 20 years the games have unfolded in one of two ways:
1. Air Force blows out Army in every facet of the game
2. A hard fought game, but an untimely turnover for Army turns the game in favor of Air Force
While the strength models show that Air Force should win by 12 points, the betting line has Air Force favored by 7.5. We see a game of big runs and fumbles. Suffice to say, Army will have to have more big runs and fewer fumbles than Air Force. Also, even though Air Force has beaten Army in every contest at Michie Stadium since 1996, there have been a few lackluster performances where superior Air Force teams did not simply waltz right in and blow Army away. The odds are such that a Falcon blowout is probably in the cards, but for no other reason than faith, we think that the Black Knights of the Hudson will play their best game of the year and win this game.

Who is favored?
Air Force is favored by 7.5 points

Final Score – Army 42-Air Force 41
(Predictions this year 2-6)
Game will be shown on CBS College Sports Network

Picks from the Ridge
(Predictions this year 6-6)
Notre Dame -16.5 vs Pittsburgh
NC State -10.5 vs Virginia
Kansas St. -9 vs Oklahoma St.

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