PREDICTON: Army will Bowl in 2010!

Prediction? Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T, in "Rocky III", had the best movie line when he was asked what his prediction for the fight was, "Prediction..Pain," Lang replied as he glared into the camera. Well for thirteen long years Army fans had to endure the pain and disappointment of losing seasons.

Last year Rich Ellerson put the Army football program on the right track during his first year with a generally solid 5-7 rebuilding year. The five victories represented the most wins for Army since 1996.

I believe this will be the year that Army will post a winning season led by its defense. The Black Knights have eight returning starters from the Double Eagle flex defense that finished 16th overall in total defense and an impressive third in team pass defense in the nation. While they probably won't post as gaudy defensive statistics since the schedule is tougher, the defense should keep army in most games.

Army's Achilles heel, last year's anemic offense, should be improved. With the maturation of quarterback Trent Steelman, the addition of fullback Jared Hassin and more speed at slot back, the Black Knights are better than last year. If the offensive line that features four seniors step up their collective games, like I expect in their second year in the system, Army should post a winning season.

I'm not nearly as optimistic as other writers on ArmySports.com who predicted a 9-3 season in their article a few weeks ago. In my opinion Army still lacks explosiveness on offense and has questionable depth to expect that many wins. Let's look at each game.

Sept. 4 at Eastern Michigan
In last year's debut for both coaches Rich Ellerson's Black Knights defeated Ron English's EMU team 27-14. It was the beginning of a winless season for EMU. Since then English replaced thirty nine players , fired and hired six new coaches to change the culture of losing. Army should roll. Army WIN

Sept. 11 HAWAII
The Black Knights home season opener is one of the most challenging games on the schedule to predict. Hawaii closed last season with five wins in their last six games. Hawaii's Greg McMackin coached with Rich Ellerson and Paul Johnson at Hawaii. He understands the Flex and his defenses did a terrific job limiting Ricky Dobbs and Navy's spread offense in the Warrior's win last year. Coming off a probable loss against USC they will view this game as a must win. The good news is that Hawaii isn't exactly "Road" Warriors. Under McMacklin the last two years they are only 4-8 on the road. This program's talent has declined since June Jones left for SMU. 5,000 miles is a long way to travel and play a football game. I like the Black Knights at home. Army WIN

Sept. 18 NORTH TEXAS
Army beat North Texas with an exciting come from behind win in Texas last year. The Mean Green returns running back Lance Dunbar who scored on a 68-yard touchdown run in last year's game. Unfortunately for North Texas their talented sophomore quarterback Riley Dodge suffered an arm injury and was switched to receiver. Army defense should rule the day at home Army WIN

Sept. 25 at Duke
Army lost to Duke last year at West Point in a game much more competitive than the final score indicated. The game was close until Rich Ellerson turned to quarterback Carson Williams. Williams proceeded to play catch with Duke cornerback Leon Wright who intercepted two passes and returned for them for touchdowns. Duke lost starting quarterback Thaddeus Lewis from last year. It was his backup and current starter Sean Renfree who came off the bench to beat Army. North Carolina is brutally hot in September. This game will be a challenge. Army LOSS

Oct. 2 TEMPLE
Bernard Pierce who ran for 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, is the best running back Army will face this season. He was the difference in Temple's victory over Army last year. Pierce gave the Army defense fits until an Andrew Rodriguez hit late in second quarter knocked him out of the game. Al Golden has done a terrific job building this program the last four years. Army should keep it close at home but the Black Knights run defense will be tested against Temple's huge offensive line. Army LOSS

Oct. 9 at Tulane
The one that got away. No we're not speaking about Julius Warmsley who left USMAPS to join Tulane. Last year's loss to the Green Wave was a bitter pill for all Army fans. The Black Knights had the better of the play all afternoon but let Tulane hang around. With a late field goal the Green Wave took the lead. Army drove down to set up a makeable 37-yard field goal attempt which Alex Carlton pushed wide right. That loss cost Army a bowl appearance. Tulane lost its best offensive player Jeremy Williams who scored a touchdown against the Black Knights last year. I expect Army to get some payback on Tulane's homecoming day. Army WIN

Oct. 16 at Rutgers
Greg Schiano has built a powerhouse at Rutgers with five consecutive bowl appearances. Rutgers leads the Big East with fourteen players being selected in the NFL draft the past four years. The Scarlet Knights are big, fast and talented. Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage will be better in his second year as starter. They do have to replace three starters on the offensive line but Rutgers is probably the most talented team Army will face this year. Army LOSS

Oct. 30 VMI
Without an injured Stephen Anderson the Black Knights struggled to stop VMI's running game last year. Pat Mealy's career high 136 yard rushing effort helped the Black Knights avoid a potentially embarrassing home defeat. VMI lost their best offensive threat from last year in Tim Mayfair. This year the Keydets field a very young team and switched to a pro style passing game. Army should win easily. Army WIN

Nov. 6 AIR FORCE
Army has been consistently outplayed by Air Force. The Black Knights have posted a dismal 2-19 record against the Falcons the last twenty-one years. Last year Army's defense dominated the first half. In the second half Army imploded as Air Force ran off 28 unanswered points. In 2008 Army played the Falcons tough at home. I think the Black Knights will defeat the Falcons year. Army Win

Nov. 13 at Kent State
Kent State has improved its talented level last few years under coach Doug Martin. The Golden Flashes limped to 5-7 record last year as they struggled with injured. They're a good defensive team. Army is 19-12 against MAC teams. The Double Eagle flex should match up well against this offense Army Win

Nov. 20 Notre Dame (at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y.)
Army faces off against Notre Dame at the new Yankee Stadium . Under new coach Brian Kelly the Irish will have a more wide open offense. I wish the Black Knights saw Notre Dame earlier in the year when they are still learning their new system. This will essentially be like a Notre Dame home game with the subway alumni. Army Loss

Dec. 11 Navy (at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia)
Army enters this game trying to break the longest consecutive game losing streak, eight games, in the rivalry's history. Last year Army's defense did a nice job keeping them competitive and in the game. Navy is coming off a 10 win season and is a legitimate top thirty team with talent, depth and team speed everywhere. Army hasn't scored a touchdown against Navy since 2006. Navy should prevail. Army Loss

I predict a 7-5 season with the team sporting a better offense but one that carried by its defense. Army should be bowl eligible this year.

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