The ninth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (3-5, Sagarin #113) and the rival Mountain West Air Force Academy Falcons (6-3, Sagarin #57). This is 42nd meeting between the teams. Air Force leads the series 27-13-1. Air Force has dominated the series in recent years winning 16 of the last 18 contests. Air Force completely dominated and embarrassed Army in a Friday Night ESPN game last year in a 41-7 blow-out. Air Force is headed to its first bowl game in three years, presently they are slotted for the New Mexico Bowl on December 22. Army must win 3 of the remaining 4 games to be bowl eligible. It is a stretch, but if they were able to win this game – the Bell Helicopter Bowl has an opening. I would imagine the Poinsettia Bowl would swap with the Bell Helicopter Bowl and Army would go to San Diego…but there are three games to win first.
Army was idle last week. The week prior, they visited Georgia Tech. Army missed a couple of opportunities to take the lead into half-time and were completely shut down in the second half to lose 35-10. Army did not look bad and they really outplayed Georgia Tech in the first half. This was probably more a function of Georgia Tech taking a motivated Army team lightly, but Army showed a lot. Army gained 266 yards on offense. Patrick Mealy was the featured back and he looked better than any other starting running back this year. However, Georgia Tech did not come out of their 4-3 defense and completely shut down the pass. Williams was 9-23 for 124 yards and had three interceptions. A touchdown was called back due to holding. The Army defense gave up 510 yards on defense. They were smaller and slower and wore down in the second half.
Air Force lost a tough game to New Mexico on a Thursday night game. Air Force gained 322 yards in offense and was in a position to win the game, but on Air Force’s last possession, New Mexico penetrated on the option and forced a fumble.
What we Learned
We learned that Patrick Mealy may be the featured back for the remainder of the year. He hits holes faster than the other running backs and with him, Army is able to move the ball on the ground. We also learned that Army will always try to run the ball wide to left when facing a 2nd and short. Additionally, we learned that Carson Williams in progressing. He made a few great throws against Georgia Tech. Take a few dropped passes and penalties away and he would have had a respectable game.
In New Mexico, we learned that Air Force will come at their opponents with an option offense that features a lot of passing. Shaun Carney is a threat on the ground and through the air, which disallows the defense from stacking the line. We learned that the Air Force defense is OK, but they will give up a lot of yards and points to a decent offense.
Who is favored?
Air Force is favored by 16.5 points.
What to look for?
On the surface, it looks like an easy Air Force victory – as has been the case for the past 20 years. Look for Army to establish the run and then try and pass from that. This has been their game plan all year, however they have not been effective.
Look for Air Force to contain the Army offense and put themselves in very good position to score. Look for Carney to fool Army on a couple of plays for some long scores.
To stay in this game, Army will have to run effectively and pass on early downs. It is imperative that Army not turn the ball over. Air Force is ready for this game and Army must act differently on offense. Army will have to have a few good special teams plays. Finally, the Army defense will have to create turn-overs and not allow long sustained drives. They will have to take chances and hopefully not get burned too often.
Final Score – Air Force 28 – Army 20 (Predictions versus the spread this year 3-5)
Game will be televised on CSTV @ 3:30 Eastern.