Army hosts Western Kentucky on Saturday at Michie Stadium. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler compares the…
Key matchups: Army vs. Western Kentucky
The tenth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 129, 3-6) and the Sunbelt Conference Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (Sagarin 91, 5-4.) This is the first meeting between these teams. The Hilltoppers will try to become bowl eligible in the tenth week of the season. Army will attempt to end a season ending free-fall, snap a two game losing streak and finish out the season with three straight wins and a .500 record.
In Colorado Springs – Army held the ball for 37:32, ran 30 more offensive plays, but gained 40 fewer yards and lost to the Falcons 42-28.
The Army Offense moved the ball well in the first half, scoring touchdowns on three of four drives. However, at the half, the Falcons adjusted and Army only scored once in the second half. Army gained 417 total yards with 308 coming on the ground. Terry Baggett had a great game, with 121 yards on 20 carries. Larry Dixon had 82 yards on 17 carries.
Army converted their first five third downs, but failed on the next 12. Air Force moved up their linebackers and did a much better job of taking away the running lanes. The Air Force offense magnificently adjusted in the second half. Interestingly, in Army's last three trips to Colorado Springs they have been outscored 73-7 after leading or being tied going into the half-time locker room. That is a stunning statistic that speaks volumes of the superiority of the Falcon coaching staff.
The Army Defense played their worst game of the year, topping their deplorable performance the game prior. They gave up 454 total yards, 343 of which were on the ground - for a whopping 7.5 yards per carry. Senior running back, Anthony LaCoste gained 263 yards on 23 carries, scoring three touchdowns on runs of 1, 73 and 78 yards. Justin Trimble had two tackles, but certainly had the worst game of his career as he failed to fill the running lanes on several long runs, including the touchdown runs. He was not the only one - missed assignments and missed tackles allowed Lacoste to look like a Heisman candidate.
As has been the norm in this series, Air Force was able to make some momentum changing plays or force some Army errors that drastically turned the tide of the game. This time, it was a blocked field goal in the first half and a missed field goal in the second. Air Force has now won 22 of the last 25 games against Army. That is even worse than the Black Knights record against Navy.
In Georgia – Bobby Petrino returned to the Georgia Dome for the first time since he was coach of the Atlanta Falcons. The Hilltoppers gained 444 total yards. Antonio Andrews rushed for 110 yards, Brandon Doughty had 206 yards passing and Keshawn Simpson ran for four touchdowns as the Hilltoppers beat Georgia State 44-28.
Who is favored?
Western Kentucky is favored by 6.5 points.
What to look for?
The Hilltoppers beat Navy and thrashed Morgan State 58-17. Running back Antonio Andrews has rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and quarterback Brandon Doughty completes almost 70% of his passes. The Hilltoppers average about 300 yards passing and 200 rushing a game.
Army returns home, and if they follow their normal trends, they will play inspired football. We expect them to score often, but they will need a couple of turnovers from the fumble prone Hilltoppers to win this game.
There have been a number of times in the Rich Ellerson era when Army has come off a very poor performance (or two, or three, etc.) and surprised everyone with a great effort against a seemingly superior opponent. On paper, it seems that Western Kentucky has decisive advantages in every matchup against Army – offense, defense, special teams, and especially coaching – yet there have been times when teams like San Diego State, Northwestern, Boston College, Stanford, etc. came in to Michie Stadium and just simply did not play anywhere near their ‘A' game. The small spread seems to suggest Vegas does not expect the Hilltoppers to take this game seriously or give it their best effort. Conversely, this Army program under Ellerson has put on some astonishingly good performances when you least expected it. After two disgracefully sloppy losses and another season gone down the tubes with no post-season play, and with this coaching staff seemingly in well-earned and well-deserved job jeopardy, a great performance from the Black Knights would be very hard to foresee. But it won't surprise us.
Final Score – Western Kentucky 47 – Army 44 (predictions in 2013, 5-4)
Game will be shown on CBSSN @ 12:00 PM EST.
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