The seventh game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (3-3, Sagarin #111) and the Mid American Conference Fighting Chippewas (3-3, Sagarin #80). This is second meeting between the teams. Central Michigan won the first game in 2005, 14-10. Both teams have rallied from 1-3 starts. The winner crosses into the black for the first time in 2007 and can legitimately start thinking about bowl eligibility.
Army won! On perhaps the most dramatic final 2 minutes in Army Football history, Army scored 10 points and won in overtime. What made the 10 points so dramatic is that the offense was stone-walled for the entire second half and they tied the game on a desperation "Hail Mary." Over the past 10 years, there have been a lot of woulda, shoulda, couldas in Army Football. Where fans could ponder if only certain things had happened – they would have emerged victorious. All those debts were retired, as Army won a game when they really had no right being within 3 touchdowns.
Army could not handle the Tulane front four. Army could not run. Kevin Dunn, replacing and injured Carson Williams, came in for the final two drives. They made an attempt at an option attack that did little but waste two minutes. It was a scramble and a throw against a prevent defense and an incredible tipped ball catch by Mike Wright that was pretty much the game. Carson Williams had a very nice throw in the second quarter to Jeremy Trimble for a 27 yard touchdown. Other than that, Williams rarely had time to pass or the ability to see any of the receivers. For the first time in two years, Army did not commit one turn-over.
The Army defense was stellar…again. They gave up 401 yards, but they were able to hold when they had to, to give Army a chance to win. Additionally, they gave the offense very good field position that was consistently squandered by the offense.
Central Michigan racked up 650 yards in total offense last week. Dan LeFevour passed for 360 yards and five touchdowns , and ran for 146 yards and another score, to lead Central Michigan to a 58-38 victory over Ball State (Sagarin #76) Saturday.
What we Learned
We learned what we pretty much already knew – Army's offense is not good and they have no running game. We also learned that the patch-work offensive line may not be ready for prime time. Let's hope that the line is healthy before Rutgers (11/9). What I hope the coaches learned was that if you roll the quarterback out of the pocket – receivers tend to get open. While Kevin Dunn is not Carson Williams, his mobility certainly gives a breath of life to an otherwise predictable and dead offensive scheme. He also gives the opposing defense something to worry about with his ability to run the option. During a post game interview, Dunn said that the Army offense works on the option every week in practice, and that it is definitely a part of their offense, but that running the option is not the forte of his two predecessors at QB, Williams and David Pevoto.
We also learned that it is a penalty for the place kicker to use linoleum to show his holder where he wants the ball placed. It seems this should be a 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, but the refs literally announced it as a 5 yarder for "Spotting with Linoleum". We haven't had a chance to check the NCAA rule book on that terminology.
At Mount Pleasant, we learned that Dan LeFevour is a heck of an athlete and he can run the spread option offense very effectively. Central Michigan averages a little over 250 yards per game passing and will pass the ball 25 times per game. They run the ball for 166 yards a game, with about 1/3 of that coming from the quarterback LeFevour. On defense, they are giving up a little over 5 touchdowns a game, but have faced the likes of Kansas and Purdue.
Who is favored?
Central Michigan is favored by 11 points.
What to look for?
This is a very interesting match-up. Will Army contain LeFevour? Historically, the cadets seem to always have problems with athletic mobile quarterbacks. This is the best Army defense that we have seen in decades, but are they up to the task this Saturday. AND will Army be able to move the ball to stay in this game?
Look for Army to give up 500 yards and 40 points. Look for the cadets to move the ball better than they have. Assuming Kevin Dunn gets the start (Williams was knocked out of last weeks game after taking a shot to the head), expect to see Army run the option regularly for the first time since Bob Sutton was fired after the 1998 season. Grinding out first downs on the ground and winning time of possession will be especially important this week as Army rebounds from a physically grueling struggle last week. Army will also need to force several turn-overs and get some help on special teams to stay in this one.
Final Score – Central Michigan 35 – Army 17 (Predictions versus the spread this year 1-5)
Let's hope that Army matches up better than I think and once again proves me wrong on the prediction.
Game will be not be televised