Academy Preview: Get To Work, Get A Win

Army and Air Force were not expected to win in week three. Stanford and Boise State have become high-quality football schools. Wake Forest and Wyoming, on the other hand, are quite beatable. It's time for the Black Knights and the Falcons to pounce on opportunities in week four, while Navy enjoys a bye week at 2-0.


WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET A WIN IN A GETTABLE GAME

In advertising, recruiting, and other realms of endeavor, the term known as "a big get" is tossed around from time to time. That term certainly applies to the week-four football fights facing Army and Air Force. The Black Knights Of The Hudson and the crew from Colorado Springs have to jump-start their seasons this Saturday. Style points would be a bonus. Encouraging signs would be welcome, too. Yet, these are the kinds of games – with bowl eligibility already slip-sliding away – that simply have to be won.

Army, coming off a strong performance against Stanford, has to be able to play with a similar level of energy and toughness against a Wake Forest team that got bossed around at home by Louisiana-Monroe a week ago. The Demon Deacons rushed for only 15 yards on their home turf against the Warhawks. Surely, Army can bottle up Wake Forest and plays this game on its own terms in the trenches. This is a toss-up game, and teams that aspire to grab a bowl bid in December must pull these 50-50s out of the fire in September. Army's level of performance against Stanford will translate into a bowl season, especially against the Black Knights' remaining list of opponents. One cannot overstate the importance of this game against Wake. It doesn't have to look like a beautiful swan in terms of artistic expression; an ugly duckling 17-13 win will look beautiful enough in the box score and, more centrally, the win column.

For Air Force, the significance of Saturday's upcoming game against Wyoming is every bit as immense as the value of Army's game against Wake. Air Force's schedule is front-loaded in 2013, and the Falcons have already felt the impact of that reality in decisive losses to Utah State and Boise State. With road trips to Nevada and Navy on the horizon, the Falcons have to win this game if they want to avoid falling into a 1-5 ravine. The back end of the schedule is filled with likely wins, but this is the FBS game in the first half of the schedule that the Falcons absolutely have to grab. It doesn't need to look pretty, but if a bowl game is to be safely tucked away for yet another season, coach Troy Calhoun's crew has to walk off the field with more points than the lads from Laramie.

It's an early point in the season for a pair of gut-checks. Yet, isn't service academy life all about meeting these kinds of situations head on? It's not a matter of life and death, but within the more innocent confines of what is ultimately an entertainment product meant for the public's enjoyment, Army and Air Force should feel the pressure associated with an important moment in the course of a football season.

Navy has answered the call. It's time for the other two service academies to join the march toward a bowl game in 2013.

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