Army at Air Force

If Army wants a shot at its first bowl since 1996, they must have a win against Air Force or Navy. For the Black Knights to have a chance against Air Force, their 115th ranked offense will need to use every wrinkle in their play book to score against one of the nation's best defenses.

Air Force's win over Colorado State last Saturday was huge for the Falcons for a couple of reasons. It brought the Falcons one win away from bowl eligibility, and it will take a major collapse down the stretch for them not to go to their third straight bowl. Perhaps even more important than just getting to the five win mark was the way the offense finally seemed to gel under Tim Jefferson. So far this season, Air Force's eighth ranked defense has used 24 takeaways to give the Falcons a chance to win games. The offense however, seemed to be playing to avoid turnovers rather than put points on the board. This led to Air Force almost winning games against the better opponents on their schedule. Against Colorado State, the Falcon offense opened up the playbook and executed in the red zone. Air Force came away with points on 4 of 5 red zone possessions, three of which were touchdowns. Army is sitting at three wins this season and is coming off a bye week following a 27-10 loss to Rutgers. Army has four games remaining, and should be victorious against VMI and North Texas.

When Air Force has the ball

Air Force's defense has been spectacular this season, but Army has a darn good defense as well that ranks 14th in the country. The Black Knight defense is anchored by a couple of outstanding juniors. Josh McNary plays as a lineman/linebacker hybrid, and has tallied 16.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks. Junior free safety Donovan Travis has picked off four balls this year, and has the speed to cover a large area of the field when asked to play zone. Due to the strength of Army's secondary, the Falcon's may not see as much success through the air as they did against the porous secondary of Colorado State. However, if the offense is to sustain its success for a second week, they must throw to open up the running game. Army has good size in their secondary, so 6'5'' WR Kevin Fogler may not create the match-up problems he usually does. Therefore, the answer for the Falcon passing game against Army may be at the Z receiver. Against CSU, both Jonathan Warzeka and Kyle Halderman had touchdown catches from the Z position. If Tim Jefferson can get them involved in the passing game, the Falcon ball carriers should get some running room.

When Army has the ball

Air Force's offense has struggled this year. Army's offense is bad. They rank 112th in the nation in scoring offense with just under 17 points per game. The Black Knight offense is led by freshman QB Trent Steelman. Steelman has done a decent job protecting the football, but like Air Force has struggled getting touchdowns in the red zone scoring 12 touchdowns in 25 opportunities. Third down has been the major killer for Army this season, converting on only 28% of their third down opportunities. Perhaps the most interesting match-up of this game is 6'10'' 283 pound Army WR Alejandro Villanueva, a converted offensive lineman, against the small yet physical corners of Air Force. Villanueva has caught all four of the Black Knight receiving touchdowns this season, and he has more than a foot on the Air Force corners. Anthony Wright and Reggie Rembert are on their way to being one of the best corner tandems in Air Force history, but playing against Villanueva is a unique experience for any corner.

Prediction: If you like defense, this is your game. Air Force converts turnovers into points and wins it at home. Sadly, the Falcon win also dooms the Commander in Chiefs trophy to another year in Annapolis.

Air Force wins 17-6

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