The eleventh game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (3-7, Sagarin #126 and Conference USA Golden Hurricane (7-3, Sagarin #83). This is the first meeting between the teams.
It was certainly a "Black Out" at West Point. The weather was horrid, Rutgers did not want to play and it did not matter - Army was completely dominated by a team that put out a 30% effort. It became clear in the second quarter, after Army (Josh Mitchell) had intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown that Rutgers would not throw and would keep the ball on the ground the rest of the way. We didn't think Mike Teal could quarterback Rutgers to victory with his team coasting around him. Unfortunately for Army, neither did Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, who pulled his starter almost immediately after that awful throw put Army on the board. With an anemic offense that could not hold or move the ball, the defense could not stop the very predictable Rutgers attack. Rutgers dominated the game in every category: Time of possession, 42 -18 min., Total Offense, 446–152. These numbers could have been far worse if Rutgers had tried to score in the second half and if they had kept their 1st and 2nd string teams on the field. Army also had 5 turnovers – which did not help the cause.
Tulsa smoked a very good Houston team 56-7, to gain the top spot in Conference USA West. They amassed over 500 yards on a porous Cougar defense and forced five turn-overs. Tulsa is projected to win the Conference USA championship and head to the Liberty Bowl where they will face either Kentucky or Arkansas.
What we Learned
We learned that dumbing down the competition in 2008 is a really good idea, unless you're a season ticket holder who is sick of wasting money watching pathetic opponents like URI and Temple. We also learned that Army must do something about their offensive scheme. They have been shut down offensively by every opponent this year other than Temple. They have a very capable quarterback in Carson Williams, but Brett Favre would have a hard time making this offense work. No running game, no receiver separation, dropped passes when the ball does reach their chest, no real pass protection – at least not when it is 3rd down and 9 to go.
Who is favored?
Tulsa is favored by 16 points.
What to look for?
Army averages 260 yards in offense and scores 16 points a game, while they give up 28 points a game. Tulsa averages 536 yards in offense, scores 39 points and gives up 33 points. Its hard to tell just how good Tulsa is because their schedule is not very impressive. The problem is we know now exactly how good Army is because their team is not very impressive. Its hard to follow the logic of the Army coaching staff and you watch them call delayed hand-offs, sweeps and draws, all slow developing plays that consistently end up as negative yardage plays. Even against Rhode Island, Army was completely unable to run these kinds of plays effectively. Why did they bother trying to run these same kinds of plays against Rutgers? Undoubtedly, they will continue to run these kinds of plays against Tulsa, and they will certainly end up in lots of 3rd and long situations all game long.
It looks as though Army may be able to move the ball a little on the Golden Hurricane. Without the threat of snow, it looks like Tulsa will move the ball on Army. For Army to win this game, they will have to hold onto the ball for 35 minutes, score on special teams and defense and not turn the ball over. Otherwise, they will have to match Tulsa's offense score for score, which they seem thoroughly incapable of doing. They will have to play their best game against a good football team. Judging from their last 4 performances, I just don't know if it is possible. The team seems beat up and demoralized. Let's see what Stan Brock can do to get the cadets prepared and play their best.
Final Score – Army 21 – Tulsa 34 (Predictions versus the spread this year 3-7)
Game will be televised on ESPNU 12:00 EST.