Key Matchups: Army vs. Tulane

The sixth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 96, 3-2) and the Conference USA West Tulane Green Wave (Sagarin 110, 2-2.) Tulane leads the all time series 9-7-1, winning a thriller 17-16 last year. Tulane looks to keep the streak alive and break the .500 mark after a resounding defensive display @ Rutgers.

Army tries to get back on track against their similar sized foe in New Orleans.  In recent years, this has been a great match up and a thrilling game.

 

Last Week

Disappointment reigned supreme last Saturday as Army came up small in its big showdown with Temple. Small as in much too small up front to deal with the brutal between-the-tackles running game that enabled the Owls to make up a 15 point deficit in the third quarter. It was the 2nd time this season Army has allowed more than 250 yards rushing in a game (226 by backup RB Matt Brown with 4 TD's), and when you saw the way the Temple offensive linemen were tossing the Army defenders around in the early going, the only surprise was that Army was able to stop them at all and that the yardage wasn't a lot worse. Yet despite the utter physical mismatch up front, the Black Knights parlayed an early turnover and the brilliant all around play of QB Trent Steelman (77 yds rushing with 4 TD's,124 yds through the air with a TD pass), into a 28-13 lead with 7:52 left in the 3rd quarter. But the game turned on its head late in the quarter when Army DB Antuan Aaron committed a crushing pass interference penalty on a 3rd and 25, that kept a Temple drive alive and enabled them to score the game tying touchdown. It was all downhill from there.

 

On the day, Temple gained 407 yards to Army's 359.  Temple only committed one turnover and Army, once again, was turn-over free.  Army did commit 7 penalties, the pass interference stood out as a the big one.  Army punted 4 times for a 46 yd average (including a 65 yd beauty that went dead on the Temple 1 yd line) and Temple averaged 39 yards on 3 punts.

 

We learned what we already knew - Army's front seven is just too small, and any team with a big offensive line that can run effectively between the tackles (Rutgers and Notre Dame come to mind) will be extremely difficult for them to stop.

 

What to look for?

Once again an opponent has selected Army as their Homecoming patsy as the Black Knights travel to New Orleans to face Tulane. The Green Wave is coming off a stunning upset victory over Rutgers in Piscataway, NJ; and they did it with outstanding defense, featuring four sacks and an interception by S Alex Wacha with :36 seconds left to seal the victory.

 

It goes without saying that Tulane will try to run the ball, but they are not regarded as a very good running team, with only had 37 yards rushing last week and just 359 total through 4 games. They do most of their damage through the air, and they feature one or two trick plays every game, as they have had five different players throw passes so far this season.  Their only TD pass last week was thrown by WR D.J. Banks.

 

Even though they have a beefy front line, this would seem to be a favorable matchup for Army, as Tulane, much like Hawaii, North Texas and Duke, does not grind it out between the tackles with power running. They try to spread out the opposing defense with four and five wide receiver formations. Army may be able to turn its pass rushers loose and dial up some big time pressure on Tulane QB Ryan Griffin.  On offense, Army is in for a serious challenge moving the ball against the Green Wave, but as long as Steelman continues to play the way he has been, and the play calling continues to be as balanced and diverse as it has been, the Black Knights' offense should prevail. Also, look for a letdown from Tulane - rarely does an unheralded team follow up a big upset victory with a good performance the next week.

 

Who is favored?

Army is favored by 1 point on the road!

 

Final Score – Army 31 – Tulane 13 (predictions 2010, 2-3)

Game will be shown on CBSCSTV.com and knightvision, 3:30PM EST.


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