Army was the first in the FBS to complete spring drills. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler will review…
Key Matchups: Army vs. Rutgers
The tenth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 149, 2-7) and The Big East Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Sagarin 47, 7-1). Rutgers leads the all-time series 20-18, but has won the last 8 meetings, dating back to 1998. Last year, Rutgers out muscled Army at Yankee Stadium, 27-12. This year, Rutgers brings a 23rd ranked team into the game. An Army win would be their first against a top 25 program since defeating Air Force in 1972. Rutgers is coming off of an unanticipated loss to Kent State and looks to get back on track before they return to Big East competition and their quest for a major bowl game. Army looks to continue their momentum after a tremendous victory over the Falcons.
At West Point, N.Y. – Army played its best game in the Rich Ellerson era and upset the unsuspecting and clueless Zoomies, 41-21.
Army took The Opening drive 66 yards and Trent Steelman plunged in for a 4-yard touchdown. Air Force responded with 65 yard, 14 play drive of its own to tie the score. Army was held to a three and out on the ensuing possession and then Air Force flew another 65 yards to the Army one. On fourth-and-goal, Nate Combs and Richard Glover teamed up for a big tackle on Connor Dietz and Army held. The momentum completely shifted and Army dominated the game until a late surge by Air Force in the closing minutes of the game.
The defense played like the 2010 team and looked like an entirely different team than we have seen in the first 8 games. Geoffery Bacon was the FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Week, making 13 tackles and an interception. Nate Combs also had a great game with 8 tackles, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and an interception. The defense held the No. 2 rushing attack in the country to 103 yards. Air Force managed to gain 235 yards in the air on 17 passes, but many of those yards were in the fourth quarter. Air Force Quarterback Connor Dietz was intercepted twice in the game – his only two of the season. We felt that Army would have a chance in this game if they were able to win the turn-over battle and they did forcing 5 and giving away none.
The Army offense was very impressive. The Cadets scored on 6 of 10 possessions. Trent Steelman came up big as he rushed and passed for more than 100 yards. He was 4 for 6 for 100 yards in the air and had 106 yards on 29 carries and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Larry Dixon and Raymond Maples had good days, both scoring touchdowns and Trenton Turrentine also gave great burst up the middle.
The question begging Sunday Morning Quarterback was – "How?" How could this be the same team that lost to the likes of Stony Brook and Eastern Michigan? We think that there are two main reasons. One is that they simply put forth a good game. There were no momentum killing penalties or turnovers. In fact, to close the first half, Army actually got the field goal team on the field and kicked a 36-yard field goal within 18 seconds – when do you remember an Ellerson team running a two minute drill and managing the clock so competently? The other is a matter of size. Air Force was clearly the smallest team that Army has played all year. This equality allowed the Army offensive and defensive schemes to work. More importantly, the defensive players were in the right place at the right time, because they were not buried under huge 330 lb. lineman. We doubt if Ellerson saw the same thing that we did, but to us, it is obvious, Army must get a lot bigger up front, and a little speed would not hurt either.
In Piscataway, N.J. – Rutgers Quarterback, Gary Nova was intercepted 6 times by the Golden Flash defense, including a Mark Fackler pick-6 in the second quarter.
Kent State's defense, along with the Archer-Durham rushing attack that we saw earlier in the season was enough to beat the undefeated and ranked team from New Jersey.
What to look for?
Rutgers brings in the No. 6 scoring defense (14.3 points per game) and the No. 4 rushing defense (88.5 yards per game). Rutgers is vulnerable in the air, but we are not likely to see more than 10 passes from Trent Steelman. Rutgers' offense is mediocre. They rush for 132 yards per game (91st) and are ranked 95 overall. Army brings the No. 1 rushing attack to Piscataway, averaging 375.4 yards per game. It seems as though Army may be able to make a competitive game of this.
What the stats don't show is that the Rutgers offensive line will outweigh the Army line by more than 80 pounds each. After their last performance, Rutgers will be content to run behind the tackles and allow Jawan Jamison to have a huge day. Army will have to commit 8 to contain him and that should allow Nova to get on track in the passing game.
We don't see Army being able to move the ball consistently against this team - they are disciplined, big and fast. The Army Defense will simply wear down. Let's hope the Black Knights can force a couple of turnovers, score and put some pressure on a skiddish Quarterback. We also expect there to be a huge emotional letdown from our Cadets after such an amazing victory last week. Also, Army's track record on the road speaks for itself. We expect Rutgers to start fast and jump out to an early lead, and take this one going away.
Who is favored?
Rutgers is favored by 17 points
Final Score – Rutgers 35 –Army 7
(Predictions this year 3-6)
Game will be shown on ESPNU @ 12:00 EST.
Picks from the Ridge
(Predictions this year 8-7)
Todd Berry's Louisiana-Monroe +6.5 @ Arkansas St.
Notre Dame -19 @ Boston College
Oklahoma State -8 over West Virginia
Pittsburgh – 3 @ UCONN
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