The tenth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (3-6, Sagarin 119) and Conference USA Rice Owls (6-3, Sagarin 65). This is the 3rd meeting between the schools and the all time record is 1-1-1, Rice winning the last meeting in 2006, 48-14. Rice is preparing for an appearance at the GMAC or Armed Forces Bowl, while Army is trying to figure out how to move the ball on offense as the showdown with Navy approaches.
Army lost to Air Force 16-7.
This was a winnable game for Army. The defense was spectacular as it held Air Force to 176 yards. Unfortunately, the defense did not score and was unable to fully bail out the Army offense.
The Army offense and special teams were flat out embarrassing. After a first possession 47 yard touchdown pass from Chip Bowden to Damion Hunter, a simple pass to the flat where Hunter showed some real agility and speed, the offense was silent. Collin Mooney was held to 92 yards on 22 carries, but he did fumble inside the Army 35 yard line to set up an easy Falcon field goal. The Falcons stacked the line and dared Bowden to pass and he was unable to do it after that initial touchdown pass. Carson Williams came in to take over the offense on the last two possessions, but unfortunately, heroics were not in the making as he was only 5 of 15 for 43 yards. The Army offensive line was good and provided holes, but Army could not break through. The need of a quarterback who can run and throw is becoming very obvious – does anyone know where we can get a blue chip option quarterback? If Army was able to recruit such a player, he would probably only end up 4th on the depth chart watching others flail in their attempts to make this option attack work.
Special teams were horrible and really were the difference. Air Force out punted and out returned Army on every possession, setting up long fields for Army and short fields for Air Force. This battle in field possession allowed Air Force to score 17 points on only 174 yards. Army return men seem hesitant to catch the ball and run and the Army punter Andrew Rhinehart simply got out kicked.
Rice visited the Miners and won in El Paso, 49-44. Rice amassed 543 yards against the worst defense in Division 1A football and were able to outscore the Miners. Chase Clement was 28/41 for 372 yards and 5 touchdowns. CJ Ugokwe rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries.
What we Learned
A good defense can stop Army's offense, it is as simple as that. Army has no real consistent passing threat which allows the linebackers and safeties to participate in line of scrimmage run defense. Army's defense is so good that if Army can inch their way to first downs and hold on to the ball, they will compete in the game. However, 17 play drives are easily fettered by a penalty or fumble.
We learned that Rice is a good team. Last week's game @ UTEP showed their ability to play in a hostile environment and score. Their defense did show some vulnerability against the very agile and fast Miner offense.
Who is favored?
Rice is favored by 11 points
What to look for?
Army will face a defense that is far less accomplished than Air Force's. They should be able to move the ball and score. They will not need to throw the ball as Mooney should have a big day and Bowden should be able to turn the corner and pitch the ball off to Wesley MacMahan.
However, Rice has a good offense. Senior Quarterback Clement is the real thing and he can direct the spread offense, run and pass well.
This game will simply boil down to how often Army can stop Rice. If they limit Rice to 21 points or less, they should win. This translates into how many times Army [Mooney] fumbles and the time of possession. Army needs to hold the ball for 35 minutes and limit their turn-overs to have a chance.
I think that this game will come down to the final possession – let's hope the Black Knights can somehow stop that drive.
Final Score – Rice 24 - Army 21 (Predictions this year 5-4)
The game will not be televised.