Army's five most important games in '09

This is another big year for Army football with new coach Rich Ellerson taking the helm and trying to reverse the curse of 12 straight losing seasons. The plan is for Ellerson to lay down the foundation for quick rebirth of the Black Knights. There will be several big games played this season. But has identified the five biggest ones.

1. Sept. 5 at Eastern Michigan: The Black Knights haven't won a season-opener since the 1996 season.

It's not a big hole, but, still, 0-1 after 0-1, is not a good way to start the season. It would be an instant morale booster if Army can win its first game with its new coach. The Black Knights couldn't ask for much better of an opponent than Eastern Michigan.

Like Army, Eastern Michigan is a struggling program in transition. First-year Eastern Michigan coach Ron English takes over a program that has gone 15-42 over the last five seasons.

2. Sept. 12 Duke: It's not like Duke is one of Army's top rivalries, but this is still a big game.

That's because Duke could be all that stands between a 2-0 start for the Black Knights. Even for Army, this game might have been a lay-up for the Black Knights a few years ago. That's not the case anymore.

The Blue Devils made huge strides last season under first-year coach David Cutcliffe, Cutcliffe, who led Ole Miss to four bowl games in six seasons and mentored Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning. Duke went 4-8 last season, but, at one point, were 4-3. The Blue Devils won one game the year before.

3. Oct. 10 Vanderbilt: This could be a big swing game for the Black Knights. It's the sixth game of the year.

We all hope the Black Knights enter the game 5-0, but that likely won't happen. However, Army could enter 3-2 or maybe 2-3. A loss at 2-3 and the Black Knights would seemed destined for a losing season. A win leaves Army still in the game.

Now, for some more simple, but important math. A win at 3-2 and the Black Knights are feeling great. Vanderbilt went 7-6 last year and won the Music City Bowl. 4. Nov. 7 at Air Force: You knew the Falcons were going to come up in this conversation. This is what Army fans hope is the first leg en route to winning the CIC Trophy.

Going to Colorado Springs is never easy for the Black Knights. They have won their just twice over the last 30-plus years. As always, Air Force will prove a stiff test. With a relatively young team, the Falcons went 8-5 last season and lost to Houston 34-28 in the Armed Forces Bowl.

5. Dec. 12 Navy, Philadelphia: Navy's win streak over Army is now at seven games. None of the games have been close.

It's been been time, for a long time, for Army to finally get the better of this very important game. The Midshipmen beat the Black Knights 34-0 last December, one of the final nails in Stan Brock's coffin. Instead of another Army wake, let's hope next December, this game marks a new beginning for Army. Top Stories