Key Matchups: Army vs. Kent State

The tenth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 87, 5-4) and the Mid-American East Conference Kent State Golden Flashes (Sagarin 110, 4-5.) These teams have only met one time previously, in 2006 and Army won at home, 17-14, in overtime.

Both teams have a lot to play for.  The Golden Flashes can still finish their year 7-5 and make themselves eligible for an at large bowl berth.  Army can cast aside a poor performance against Air Force, become bowl eligible and gain some momentum for their showdown next week with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

 

Last Week

Air Force scored on two long passes and a fumble recovery as they flew past the Cadets 42-22.

 

Army took an early 6-0 lead, but really did not capitalize on early opportunities to take the Falcons out of their game plan.  Army took the opening drive to the AFA 13 yard line and elected to kick a field goal on 4th and 1. 

 

On the next drive, an Army blitz caused a floating pass, but MLB Steven Anderson dropped the gift interception.  Army took the next drive to the 24 yard line and PK Alex Carlton converted his second field goal.

 

Air Force scored on the next two drives.  The second was a bomb from QB Tim Jefferson to WR Jonathan Warzeka for 53 yards.  Warzeka is most likely the fastest receiver that the Black Knights defense has faced this season, and he made the secondary look foolish turning the wrong way for the ball as it was in the air.

 

Army answered on the following drive, capped by a Jacob Bohn 18 yard touchdown run.

 

On the ensuing drive, Air Force took the ball down to Army's 18 and on a 4th and 1, Anderson timed the snap, jumped over the center and tackled backup QB Conner Dietz for a loss.  Army took over the ball with 2:06 and had a short run by Mealy and then a nice pass to Mealy and moved the ball to their own 37.  On the following play, Steelman threw his first interception of the year - he did not see CB Anthony Wright helping the safety, and it was an easy pick.  The interception was returned to 23 yard line and Air Force scored three plays letter, just before the end of the half.

 

Army kept Air Force at bay for the first two drives in the second half.  Army was able to move the ball, but not as far as the red zone. Carlton kicked his third field goal of the game – this one from 46 yards and Army trailed by only 5 points with 3:30 left in the 3rd.

 

On the following drive, Jefferson and Warzeka connected for their second long pass – this one for 63 yards, on another play that was very poorly defensed by the secondary.   Air Force began to pull away as they were up by 12. 

 

Two possessions later, FB Jarred Hassin fumbled the handoff from QB Trent Steelman. DL Jordan Waiwaiole caught the ball in the air and rumbled 52 yards for the score.  Both teams followed with touchdowns, but Army never threatened to get back in the game. 

 

Army played with heart.  Carlton had a career day.  Anderson had a tremendous game.  But it was a day when the ball bounced right for Air Force.  Trent Steelman had a tough day taking snaps from Zach Peterson, which did not help the fluidity and timing of the offense.  On the day, he was 6 for 12 for 81 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception and he also ran for 60 yards.  Hassin had another great game with 114 yards on 17 carries.  Army gained 325 total yards and was limited to 244 on the ground.  Air Force contained the speed sweep, something no other team has done this year and kept the ball from going to the outside.  They really had a tremendous defensive scheme that put a lot of pressure on Army.  Conversely, the Falcons gained 401 yards.  Jefferson only had 3 complete passes, but two were for those long strikes.

 

In the end, Air Force executed better than Army. In the post game press conference, AFA Coach Troy Calhoun characterized the victory and clinching the Commander-in Chiefs Trophy as, "very neat." That tells you an awful lot about where these two programs are right now. For the Falcons, this was just another game, they played fast and loose, as if there was not the slightest bit of pressure on them, and winning this game was not that big a deal to them. For the Black Knights, there was a big spotlight on their team for this game, with such sports celebrities as Joe Girardi and Boomer Esiason in attendance, and all of West Point Nation watching them, pulling for them to become bowl eligible at Air Force's expense. What we saw was a team that came apart at the seams under the pressure, with one unforced error after another – dropped passes/interceptions, juggled snaps, fumbled handoffs, and hideously blown coverages, too many to overcome against any team, much less a team of the Falcons' quality. As our program moves forward, there will be more opportunities to perform on the big stage and in the national spotlight, so we would expect the Black Knights to play with better poise and composure under pressure.

 

In Kent, Ohio the Temple Owls handed the Golden Flashes their first home loss of the season 28-10.  Temple racked up 465 yards, 368 of them in the air, but also turned the ball over three times.  Kent State gained 223 yards on the day, but only 16 yards on 21 rushing attempts.  Their touchdown came on a blocked punt in the 4th quarter of the game.

 

What to look for?

Kent State has the #1 rushing defense in football.  They held Temple to 97 rushing yards and Penn State to 162.  They are 113th in rushing offense and 72nd in passing offense.   Army is 8th in rushing offense. 

 

This game figures to be a low scoring contest of wills.  Undoubtedly, Army will run the ball.  Air Force did the best of any team this year defending them.  We doubt that Kent State compares with Air Force either athletically or schematically. 

 

Kent State will try to move the ball on the ground and will try to stay in this game as long as they can, hoping that they can force some turnovers.

 

The Cadets should be hungry to prove something to the football world, their fans and themselves. Look for a very good bounce-back effort this week after last week's disappointment. They should move the ball and they should be able to contain Kent State.  Kent State has succeeded against bottom dwelling teams this year and have not been able to beat the better teams.  Army should come out and play a very effective game on both sides of the ball.

 

Who is favored?

The game is a pick'em

 

Final Score – Army 20 –Kent State 14 (predictions 2010, 4-5)

Game will be shown on Knightvision @ 2:00PM EST.

 

Picks from the Ridge (predictions 2010, 3-3):

Auburn -8.5 vs Georgia

Utah -5 @ Notre Dame

Louisville Pick'em vs South Florida


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