The eleventh game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 140, 4-6) and Sun Belt Conference North Texas Mean Green (Sagarin 156, 2-8). The Black Knights lead the all time series 2-0, with the last one coming in 1997, 25-14. This is a fantastic match up! It brings together a couple of the worst FBS teams, but if Army wins, it sets up a terrific Army/Navy game scenario, where a win in Philadelphia not only snaps a horrendous losing streak in the storied rivalry, but also takes them to the Eagle Bank Bowl.
Patrick Mealy rushed up the middle with 8:58 minutes left in the fourth quarter to put the Black Knights up for good. Army was able to stop a final attempt at the end zone and preserve the victory over VMI 22-17.
This was certainly not the cake walk of a game that it was supposed to have been. VMI linemen and linebackers were in the Army backfield for most of the afternoon, limiting Army to 186 yards on 47 carries. 9 defenders in the box forced Army to throw and Trent Steelman and Ali Villanueva responded. Steelman was 11/14 for 174 yards and Villanueva caught 7 for 119. What was very concerning is how effective the VMI defense was against the Black Knight offensive line.
VMI moved the ball rather effectively, 347 total yards and 328 on the ground. They were actually more successful running the ball than any other opponent this year.
Army fumbled the ball 4 times, which helped VMI stay in the game. Also, VMI started drives beyond their 40 twice after kick-offs.
In Miami, Wayne Younger scored on a 23-yard run with 5:08 left in the fourth quarter, culminating 21 unanswered points by Florida International in a 35-28 win over North Texas in a barn burner between the two Sun Belt Conference cellar dwellers.
The Panthers (3-7, 3-4) were limited to 258 yards in total offense, but
used an interception, a blocked punt and a Mean Green fumble to overcome a 28-14 halftime deficit. The Mean Green gained 513 yards in total offense. Freshman Riley Dodge was 28/37 for 314 yards. He had one touchdown throw and one interception.
What we Learned
Last Saturday, one of the main concession stands in the upper level at Michie Stadium did not have coffee available for the fans. As a result, we learned how difficult it is to stay awake watching this team play without the java.
We also learned that Army cannot sustain drives, protect the ball, and score points against any team.
We also learned that, for this particular game, Army's MVP was the replay official who gift wrapped the dubious victory with a stunning ruling on a 3rd down sideline catch late in the 4th quarter by Ali Villanueva, who appeared to land five feet out of bounds, giving Army a first down when their punting unit had already taken the field. Army scored the winning TD on the next play, averting what would have been one of the most incredible and embarrassing defeats in the long history of the Academy. The best way to describe the feeling after having witnessed this debacle is that it was one of the worst games ever played by two of the worst teams in college football today, and, as an Army fan, it was a victory that felt for all the world like a terrible loss. Usually, a win is a win, but not this time.
On a more positive note, we did learn that Steelman can pass effectively. In order for this offense, with these players, to move the ball, they will have to rely on Steelman and Villanueva.
In Miami we learned that the Mean Green have a great offense. They routinely score 4 or more touchdowns a game and rack up serious yardage. They have a tendency to commit turnovers (23) and give up a lot of yards.
Who is favored?
The Mean Green are 3 point favorites
What to look for?
Look for a really fun game! Army just may be able to move the ball against North Texas, but VMI demonstrated that any level of team can shoot the gaps and thwart the Army running game with stunning ease.
Look for Army to throw the ball often in order to keep the linebackers out of the back field.
Look for the Mean Green to thoroughly test the Army defense with their dynamic and exciting spread offense. North Texas will force Army to play extra defensive backs and fewer linebackers on every play, stretching the defense very thin. This will be an intriguing match up.
Will the cadets' defense, which has played at a pretty high level all season long, be able to put pressure on Dodge and contain the passing attack?
Will the cadets' offense, which is anything but dynamic and exciting, bore the Mean Green defense (and their fans) enough, score enough and keep the ball long enough for the defense not to tire?
Look for Army to get out to a lead and for North Texas to come back in the third quarter.
This will be such a tremendous game for all Army fans – it is a shame that we will have to fly to Dallas or watch it on the internet.
Final Score – Army 24 – North Texas 21 (predictions this year 2-8)
The game will be presented on Knight Vision @ 4:00 PM EST.