Key Matchups: Army vs. Rutgers

The seventh game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 86, 4-2) and the Big East Scarlet Knights (Sagarin 107, 3-2.) The all-time series is tied 18-18, but the Scarlet Knights from New Jersey have won 6 in a row, dating back to 1998. Last year was a quiet Friday night thumping at West Point, where Army was thoroughly dominated and Rutgers rested their troops, 27-10.

Through the years, this has been a fun game and is usually a barometer for Army teams.  Army will try to move forward for their 4th road victory of the year and come within one game of bowl eligibility.  Rutgers looks to shake off some early season struggles and get back on track as they get ready for the heart of their Big East schedule. 

Last Week

The Tulane Green Wave, fresh off perhaps their biggest and most surprising victory in Head Coach Bob Toledo's tenure against Rutgers the week before, laid a gigantic egg in front of their Homecoming Weekend crowd at the Superdome.  Often times weak, inexperienced teams will follow unbelievable upset wins with colossal stinkers, and Tulane thoroughly fit the bill. Fortunately for the West Point Nation, the Black Knights were the benefactors of Tulane's bumbling and inept play. At the start of the 2nd quarter, Tulane fumbled the ball away after a pass completion. They then fumbled away possession on consecutive kickoff returns. By the time Army's most generous opponents woke up and showed a pulse in this game, it was 31-7. 

Credit the Army offense with taking advantage of almost every Tulane mistake. Credit Army's star players for playing big in this game - QB Trent Steelman with yet another outstanding all-around game (85 yds rushing with a TD, 3 for 5 passing for 31 yds and a TD); FB Jarred Hassin for having a breakout game (144 yds rushing with 2 TD's, an additional 14 yds receiving); and DE Josh McNary for picking up two of Army's three sacks on the day. But most of all, credit Tulane, who rushed for a grand total of 63 yards and held the ball for less than 23 minutes in this game, for being such gracious and welcoming hosts.   

The Tulane defense was pretty interesting.  Throughout the game, they set their line-backers 5 yards off the ball.  This guaranteed 3 or 4 yards a carry and if Hassin had the ball and did not fumble, 6 or 7.  However there was no room to run outside.  The inside sweeps were able to beat the linebackers to the outside, but the traditional outside pitch was not there.  It made for a fairly mundane game, but it made Army faithful giddy.   Overall, Army rushed for 312 yards. 

In Piscataway, Rutgers rallied late in the 4th quarter to overcome a 13 point half time deficit to beat UCON 27-24.

This was a very good game.  UCON moved the balls with big plays, but Rutgers was relentless.  Freshman Chas Dodd was 18 of 29 for 322 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs.  Rutgers only ran for 88 yards on 38 attempts.  Rutgers did commit 11 penalties. 

What to look for?

Tulane beat Rutgers. Army beat Tulane. Logically, Army should beat Rutgers, right? Not so fast. Rutgers is coming off a solid victory over Big East rival UConn, scoring 10 points in the last 3:53 of the game. They only rushed for 88 yards, and they relied heavily on the passing of talented Freshman QB Chas Dodd. On the surface, it might seem that Rutgers does not have much of a running game going right now, and they might not attack Army's defensive front seven with power running between the tackles. But we have seen Head Coach Greg Schiano's teams for too many years go back to basics when facing Army. This is exactly the kind of team, with exactly the kind of massive offensive line that Army has never been able to hold up against. We have already seen this season what happens when Army's tiny defensive front seven goes up against size and strength like this. Schiano will not do anything fancy in this game - he will rotate his running backs and play smashmouth football all game long.  

Rutgers has only been able to generate more than 100 yards rushing against Norfolk State and Tulane so far this year.  What will Sadat and company do to stop the run and get Rutgers to throw?

If Rutgers runs the ball 40 times, Army will probably not hold up.  So can they win the game? Yes, if:

  • Their offense can give them the kind of performance they have been giving nearly every week so far this season - 300+ yds rushing, 31+ points, 35+ minutes time of possession
  • They will also have to win the turnover battle by at least +2
  • They will need to have the lead by at least two scores going in to the 4th quarter - the Black Knights have been outscored 51-17 in the 4th quarter the last three games
Will all of these things happen, enabling Army to win this game?  

We will be hoping and praying, but not betting. 

Who is favored?

Rutgers is favored by 7 points 

Final Score – Rutgers 31 – Army 21 (predictions 2010, 3-3)

Game will be shown on ESPN3, 2:00PM EST.


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