Key Matchups: Army vs. Temple

The eleventh game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 110, 3-7) and the Mid-American East Conference Temple Owls (Sagarin 65, 6-4.) The all-time series is tied 4-4, however Temple has won the previous three meetings. The Owls beat the Black Knights 42-35, in a great game at Michie last year.

Background

The Owls are bowl eligible, but a loss to Ohio put them out of the conference championship and an automatic bowl bid. They are looking to beat Army and Kent State next week to make themselves as attractive as possible for a bowl with an open slot.  Army on the other hand, is licking their wounds gained from another terrible loss as they look to gain a semblance of confidence and momentum before the rivalry game versus Navy.

 

Last Week

At Yankee Stadium, it was a game of missed opportunities and blown calls as the Scarlet Knights once again beat Army 27-12.

 

Army, led by Freshman Angel Santiago, thoroughly dominated the first half of play, but only scored 6 points on two field goals of less than 20 yards.  Army was held on a 4th and 2 and punted on their other two 1st half possessions.  The Army defense had a stellar first half, stopping Rutgers on their first three possessions.  Rutgers scored a touchdown on their fourth possession as their big offensive line began to take command of the game.  A missed extra point left the game tied at 6 at the half.

 

Rutgers opened the second half with a nice touchdown drive, highlighted by a 38 yard touchdown pass from Chas Dodd to Brendan Coleman.

 

Late in the 3rd quarter, Thomas Holloway intercepted a pass at the Army 45, returned for 19 yards to the Rutgers 36.  It took 9 plays to go 36 yards, but Larry Dixon scored on a 2 yard run.  Alex Carlton missed another PAT and that left the score 12-13.

 

Kyle Martin intercepted a Dodd pass on the next possession and Army was poised for the victory.  On a 2nd and 10 play, Angel Santiago executed his first pitch of the game to slot back Stephan Fraser and it took Rutgers completely by surprise as he made his way to the 1 yard line.  However, the play was called back – Offensive Lineman Frank Allen was getting up and a Rutgers player tripped over his leg, and the refs threw the flag.  The play was not a trip and was 20 yards from the ball, and the flag should not have been thrown.  Nevertheless, the Army melt-down began.  A blocked punt for a touchdown ensued 2 plays later and Army gave up a late, 56 yard touchdown run by Jawan Jamison to put the dagger in the heart.

 

Army was not crisp and they were not sharp, but they were gritty and they played well enough to win.  They gained 228 yards on 54 attempts as Santiago was reluctant to pitch the ball and Rutgers stacked the middle.  Larry Dixon had 93 yards on 9 carries, which was highlighted by a 55 yard run on the first possession.  Angel Santiago has a very odd looking throwing motion – let's put it this way…his style doesn't exactly remind you of Dan Marino or Tom Brady - and was 6-15 for 77 yards.  He was very effective when throwing slants and in cuts, but the receivers could not separate on the fly patterns and several of those attempts had no chance of success whatsoever.

 

For the exception of the last possession where Army players were blatantly held (not that we are making excuses and blaming the refs again for another loss, but a team like Rutgers should not need to get away with blatant holding penalties to win), the Army defense was stellar.  They held Rutgers to 314 total yards and only 118 on the ground.  They forced 2 interceptions and kept the team in the game.

 

In all, it was a game that was very indicative of the season.  With a good call or a break, they win the game, but instead, they are now 3-7.  However, for all the naysayers that doubt if Army can compete in the Big East – please note that the Black Knights played well enough to win.

 

In Philadelphia, on a Wednesday night game, RB Matt Brown ran for 123 yards and a touchdown and Temple beat Miami (Ohio) 24-21.

 

Sophomore Chris Coyer made his first career start and was 10/19 for 92 yards and a touchdown.  He also ran for 97 yards and a TD.

 

The Owls gave up 428 total yards to the Red Hawks, but they did force 3 turn-overs.

 

Who is favored?

Temple is favored by 13 points.

 

What to look for?

The Owls rank 4th in the country in points allowed per game at 13.6.  Temple only allows 3.19 yards per rush and 300 yards per game.  The Owls average 5.13 yards per rush as they run the spread option.  They will run 3 times for each pass during the course of the game. They will certainly look to pound Army's miniscule defensive line relentlessly and exact a physical toll on the entire defense throughout the game.

 

The Black Knights lead the nation in rushing with 352 yards per game and an average 5.59 yards per rush.  The Cadets allow 4.58 yards per rush.  They have only allowed 1,880 passing yards on 237 attempts, which is very respectable.

 

The most telling statistic is that Army has fumbled the ball 32 times this year and has lost 19 of them – that is 3 fumbles and 2 fumbles lost per game. Army's ball security was drastically improved against Rutgers, but if they revert back to the bumbling and fumbling we saw in the first nine games of the season, they certainly will have no chance of winning this game.

 

This looks to be a game where the Cadets will play hard in the first half and keep it close and eventually wear down in the second half to lose by a couple of touchdowns.  Army's ability to score will very much hinge on Steelman and Maples playing.  Without Steelman, moving the ball on the big Temple Defensive line will be difficult.  Army must hold the ball for 35 minutes to give the defense any chance at holding Temple to 3 touchdowns. 

 

Bernard Pierce has had a stellar year for Rutgers.  He has 19 TDs and is 15th in the nation in rushing yards per game with 115.  He missed the last game with a concussion suffered against Ohio (11/5).  He also missed last year's game between these two teams. Of course, Army's chances of hanging in this game are better if he does not play, but Army was unable to handle Temple's running game at home last year despite having a much better defense then than they have now.

 

Finally, Army is 0-8 at Lincoln Financial Field. They are 0-6 away from Michie Stadium this year. They have had stretches during nearly all of their away games when they have looked like the absolute worst team in college football. Not sure there is a great deal of reason to believe that this Saturday will be much different. An awful lot of "if's" and an awful lot of bounces will have to go their way to win this game.

 

 

Final Score –

 

Ridge's prediction:

 

With Steelman and Maples in and Pierce out:  Army 21 – Temple 17

Without Steelman and Maples and Pierce in:  Temple 28 – Army 10.

 

Lommer' prediction:

 

No matter who plays for either team:

Temple 41 – Army 17

 

(Predictions 2011, 4-6)

 

Game will be shown on ESPN 3, 1:00PM EST.

 

Picks from the Ridge

 

Tennessee +1.5 over Vandy

Maryland +10.5 over Wake Forest

Utah -3.5 versus Washington State


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