The fifth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (0-4, Sagarin 190) and former Conference USA rival, the Tulane Green Wave(2-2, Sagarin 88). Tulane leads the all time series 6-8-1. Army won last year's match up in an overtime, which included a Kevin Dunn Hail Mary pass to Mike Wright which resulted in a touchdown on the final play of regulation. This was Army's last win as the Black Knights hold the nation's longest losing streak.
Army lost to Texas A&M 21-17. I was pleasantly surprised that the Army team was able to put pressure on A&M quarterbacks and for the exception of two plays, they really kept the Aggie Offense in check, allowing just 290 yards. Army was very creative with their blitz packages and was only burned on a 3rd and long when they rushed 3.
What was even more surprising was the Cadet Offense. The Knights held the ball for 37 minutes and gained 284 yards in total offense. What the statistics will not tell you is that there was a consistent Aggie linebacker presence in the Army backfield, which prevented Chip Bowden from doing much more than giving to the Fullback Mooney or keeping it around the tackle. Bowden presents no passing threat and therefore A&M loaded 9 or more in the box all afternoon. Yet, he was able to scamper, duck and dodge his way down the field and keep the offense moving. A key play occurred as Army was driving to close out the half. Bowden was hit and fumbled, linebacker Paul Freeney scampered 58 yards for an Aggie TD. That was probably a 10 point swing and certainly influenced the outcome of the game.
It was a great day in College Station, great fans and great venue – too bad Army had to settle for the moral victory.
In New Orleans, Tulane beat SMU on a Thursday night game. Tulane's spread offense racked up 474 yards and held the ball for 38 minutes. June Jones' run and shoot was able to generate 311 yards of offense for SMU, and both teams turned the ball over twice.
Tulane jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead and did not generate much offense in the second half, but then they did not have to.
What we Learned
Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for the Army faithful. Maybe they can limit their turn-overs and catch a couple teams off guard. Maybe their defense can get creative and force turn overs. Maybe Chip Bowden will be able to absorb 40 hits a game and lead this team for the year. Maybe Army did not need Paul Macintosh after all. Maybe they just caught A&M in a very down year with a new head coach and coaching staff, and with both the first and second string QB's hurting. After all, Arkansas State beat them earlier this year
We did not learn a lot about Tulane. They have lost to Alabama and East Carolina – most teams outside of the top 20 would. They have beaten Louisiana Monroe and SMU, most teams in the top 100 would. They have beaten the teams that they were supposed to beat…unlike the Black Knights.
Who is favored?
Tulane is favored by 20 points
What to look for?
Once again, it is very difficult to imagine a scenario where Army wins in New Orleans as Tulane's Homecoming Day patsies. The Tulane offense averages nearly 400 yards in offense per game (250 passing 140 rushing). Their quarterback Kevin Moore is pretty good and running back Andre Anderson is the dual threat that will give Army fits. Also, after a supreme effort by Army in College Station last weekend, a letdown is to be expected.
I just can't see Army holding Tulane to less than 35 points and I can't see Army scoring more than 20 points, yet I think that they will make this game a close one. I think that Army will dominate the time of possession and limit Tulane to 8 possessions, as long as they don't turn the ball over. They will have to win the turn-over battle to stay in the game. I look for a risk-taking Army defense to give up some big plays, but make a few stops. In recent years Army has done very poorly stopping teams that play the spread offense. Army will see four and five wide receiver formations all game long, and unfortunately, Army does not have the talent and depth in their secondary to contain Tulane's receivers. Army will have to keep constant pass-rush pressure on the QB to stay in this game. Fortunately, Army's defensive line is the biggest strength of their team, and they just might be able to put the kind of pressure needed to make this a game. Let's hope Carson Williams will be throwing Hail Mary's to tie the game on the last play.
Final Score – Tulane 35 - Army 20 (Predictions this year 1-3)
The game will be televised on Cox Sports, a New Orleans station @ 3:00PM EST.