Key Matchups: Army vs. Rutgers

The tenth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (3-6, Sagarin #120 and the Big East Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-3, Sagarin #45). This is 34th meeting between the teams. Army leads the series 18-15. Rutgers has won the past three meetings, the last one taking place in 2003, 36-21.

Background

The tenth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (3-6, Sagarin #120 and the Big East Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-3, Sagarin #45). This is 34th meeting between the teams. Army leads the series 18-15. Rutgers has won the past three meetings, the last one taking place in 2003, 36-21.

Last Week

Army was completely dominated by Air Force last week in a 30-10 loss. Army was fortunate that the score was not more lopsided. Air Force out-gained Army 542-181 yards. Chad Hall for Air Force gained 275 rushing yards – he is a special player. Air Force held the ball for 35 minutes. Air Force is a very well coached team, they knew exactly where to exploit Army and consequently, the Army offense was hapless. Also, they nearly took the Army Special Teams out of the contest. Army was fortunate that their defense was so good. On a positive note, Army did not have any turnovers. 

Rutgers lost a tough one to #16 Connecticut last week, 38-19. They churned up 511 yards in offense and held the ball for 31 minutes, but they settled for field goals too often. Ray Rice had had 116 yards on 21 carries and Mike Teal was 32/52 with one touchdown. Connecticut had 400 yards in total offense and only settled for 1 field goal. 

What we Learned

We learned that with similar athletes, Air Force is just a better football team. Both teams are well coached, but Air Force has an offensive scheme that really works with their players attributes and is very effective. Army, on the other hand, has no running game, which allowed multiple blitz packages to ruin any semblance of a passing game. Army needs some major adjustments in their offensive schema – what they are doing right now is completely wasting Carson Williams' skills and the efforts of a great defense.

In Storrs, Connecticut, we learned that the mighty Rutgers team is no longer. Their great defense is now average. They look to finish 3rd in the Big East and headed for the Meineke Car Care Bowl on December 29th. They are good – but beatable…unlike last year.

Who is favored?

Rutgers is favored by 19 points.

What to look for?

On the surface, it looks like an easy Rutgers win. A nice two hour bus ride, be home late Friday Night and take in College Game Day the following morning.

Rutgers is bigger, faster and more talented.

However, watch out of the let down factor in this game. Rutgers went into last week's game with a chance at a BCS birth. Now they are headed for the Meineke Car Care Bowl and headed up 9W to play the hapless Cadets. They will not be motivated, they will not come to play – they will be an upset waiting to happen. Even Head Coach Greg Schiano has expressed concern about his team's frame of mind coming off last week's brutal loss.

The Black Knights are calling for a Black Out. This is a chance to rally around something. A Friday Night ESPN game, where Army can show that they are a good football team. With no classes on Friday and everyone dressed in black – this will be a special environment and will create the right ingredients for a great night at Michie.

For Army to win, they must come in completely pumped up – and the cadets need to get behind them. They need to take the lead early and apply consistent defensive pressure. Rutgers will look for Ray Rice to lead them to victory because he's a super player and, throughout this season, Mike Teal has not proven he can carry their offense when opposing defenses focus on Rice. In this contest, Army certainly will play with eight or nine men in the box all night long looking to bottle up the Rutgers running game. Can Teal make Army pay surrounded by despondent and disappointed players going half speed in 35 degree weather?

Army will lead at half time, create several turnovers and score on a couple of special teams plays. The second largest upset of 2007!

Final Score – Army 31 – Rutgers 27 (Predictions versus the spread this year 3-6) 

Game will be televised on ESPN 8:00 EST.


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