The sixth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 129, 2-3) and the ACC-Atlantic, Boston College Eagles (Sagarin 76, 2-2.) Boston College leads the all-time series 24-13, however Army beat the Eagles last year 34-31 at West Point. The Eagles are coming off a competitive loss to Florida State and looking forward to a road trip to Death Valley to meet top five Clemson. Army is coming off their first road victory in 15 attempts and hopes to even their record on the season half way through the schedule.
At the Texas State Fair, Terry Baggett rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns and the Black Knights gained 414 yards on the ground to beat the Bulldogs 35-16, in a game that was twice delayed by thunder storms.
The Army Offense looked its best against an FBS opponent in several years. The Black Knights gained 430 total yards, held the ball for 40 minutes, converted 8 of 15 third downs and were two for two on fourth down. In addition to Baggett, Trenton Turrentine and Larry Dixon were solid up the middle and were tough to bring down. Lawrence Scott showed good speed on three carries and we saw Kelvin White get around the side for a touchdown. Angel Santiago played the best game of his career as he consistently made the right reads and pitched the ball early and often. Santiago was only 1 for 3 passing for 16 yards, but this was a game where Army did not need him to throw downfield.
We were hoping that the staff would give Baggett the ball more, and they did. With Maples being out, Baggett appears ready to carry the load. What was particularly impressive was Ian Shields' play calling. Louisiana Tech was only able to disrupt the option three times during the entire course of the game. The Bulldogs did their best to bring pressure up the middle or on the perimeter, but the clumsy play cards seemed to work as Shields consistently called plays to counter what he saw on the initial defensive alignment. It really was a brilliantly called game.
We would like to see more passes. Baggett, Anthony Stephens, Scott Williams, Xavier Moss and Chevaughn Lawrence have shown that they can catch the ball. Shields seems to use the pass less than five times a game for a big play – rather than using it as a way of keeping the cornerbacks and safeties out of the backfield. It seems that throwing more, higher percentage passes could keep the opposing defenses off balance, but this offense is looking more and more like Bob Sutton's as we move through this season.
The defense played a good game, allowing 377 total yards and only 57 yards rushing. The Bulldogs rushed 23 times and were completely stymied. Army made a commitment to stop the run and they succeeded, despite missing Geoffery Bacon. However, playing what is essentially a 5 man front and single coverage on the receivers only gives one safety for help. Louisiana Tech figured this out midway through the second quarter and threw for 320 yards. Army was helped by the weather conditions, but those conditions may have also led to Army dropping a couple of would be interceptions.
Late in the third quarter, Army was winning 28-16, and a Bulldog score would have put some pressure on the Black Knights. Louisiana Tech had moved the ball to Army's 42 when LB Colin Linkul made two unassisted sacks to force the punt. Linkul is listed at 188 pounds and that may be sopping wet, but he came up big. He also recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter. Linkul was the defensive player of the game.
Sophomore DB Shaquille Tolbert and junior Julian Holloway had 9 tackles each and Tolbert had an interception. Josh Jenkins was called for targeting in the fourth quarter and will not be eligible to play in the first half of the Boston College game.
In Boston, the Eagles gained 397 total yards, 200 rushing, but the Seminoles gained 489 and simply outscored Boston College in 48-34 victory. Chase Rettig was 19 for 29 for 197 yards and four touchdowns. RB Andre Williams rushed for 149 yards on 28 carries. The Eagle defense allowed 159 yards on 36 attempts.
Who is favored?
Boston College is favored by 11 ½ points.
What to look for?
Boston College is not Morgan State or Louisiana Tech. They are coached by Coach Steve Addazio, who is in his first year at Boston College after coaching at Temple. He is the architect of the "line up and run between the tackles" offense that specifically beat up and wore down the small Black Knight defensive front when he coached against Army in the past. There is absolutely no reason to think he will take any other kind of approach this time around.
Boston College is coming off of two straight losses to USC and Florida State. Their wins came against Villanova and Wake Forest. Next week they head to Clemson to play a top 5 team at Clemson.
Army has very little chance to win this game. The Eagles are bigger and faster, and Addazio knows how to beat Army. They will feed Andre Williams the ball 35 times and he may gain 250 yards. If Army attempts to counter that, Rettig will beat them over the middle and long. This is simply a bad match up for the Cadets.
The only way that the Black Knights hang in this game is if they score on every possession. The Eagles have given up a lot of yards on the ground this year, but with little respect for pass, they will load the box on Army. The Shields/Santiago combination has shown no ability to be successful against such a defensive strategy.
Often times, a big time team like Boston College would be looking past Army with a huge contest coming up the following week. However, keeping in mind Army's incredible upset victory over the downtrodden Eagles last year, we imagine that it is highly unlikely that BC will look past this game. It is more likely they will come out looking to settle the score after what had to be the most embarrassing loss their players had probably ever suffered. From a more practical standpoint, we will believe that Ellerson, Shields, Santiago, Baggett and company can win in a hostile environment against a more talented opponent when we see it.
Final Score – Boston College 28 – Army 10 (predictions in 2013, 3-2)
Game will be shown on ESPN 3 @ 1:00 PM EST.
Key matchups: Army vs. Boston College
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