Can Army Win?

There is really only one question that both Army and Navy fans have to ask themselves leading up to the big game this Saturday, and it's quite simply: Can the Cadets win? After 8 consecutive decisive victories by the Midshipmen in the series, even a close game would be a change of pace. I think a lot will have to go Army's way in order for it to be interesting in the fourth quarter.

How Army Can Pull the Upset

Score first: Nothing would do more to build Army's confidence than to put points on the board first. Army fans are probably thinking it would be just nice to score a touchdown against Navy since it hasn't happened in the last three games against the Mids. However, getting a lead on Navy is almost a necessity if the Black Knights have any thoughts of pulling the upset. I say this with great confidence because if Navy goes up, say, 10-0 early, it could easily turn into a rout.

Stop Navy in the Red Zone: Early in the year this would have been a lot easier because Navy's offense lacked creativity and execution when they got close to the goal line. However, the Mids have been locked in, scoring on 33 out of their last 34 trips in the red zone – including an astounding 31 touchdowns. Forcing Navy to kick field goals will give the Cadets a chance. There is no way Army wants to get into a track meet against the Midshipmen – that didn't work so well for them against Air Force.

Average over Five yards on First Down: This game could very well be decided by which team has more success on first down because I don't think the Cadets will have much success on third down, regardless of the distance. Third and short is typically a comfortable position for Army to be in, but against Navy, I think they will find that two yards in obvious running situations will be tough to come by. So I think if they can average close to six yards on first down, they will be able to keep Navy's offense off the field.

Take Chances: Other than another game to Navy, Army really has nothing to lose in Philadelphia on Saturday. They are going to their first bowl game since 1996 and no matter what happens on Saturday, 2010 has been a successful season for the Black Knights. So playing it safe against the Mids would be a mistake. Now I'm not saying they should come out in four receiver sets, but punting inside of Navy's forty yard line should not be a consideration unless it's the fourth quarter and their winning. If there is a bag of tricks in West Point, they shouldn't leave them on campus.

Get Malcolm Brown the Ball: The first time I saw the speedy slot back touch the ball, as a Navy fan, I feared this game. Sidelined since the Rutgers game in October with a collarbone injury, Brown's status is uncertain for Saturday. However if he plays, Army must get him involved as much as possible. I think Brown is their most explosive player and I'm not sure why he only has two receptions.  

Even if Army manages to do all of the above, I think they will still need to get a big break to go their way in order to win the game. Whether it is a blocked punt or a huge turnover that leads to a short field, the Cadets just don't have the speed on either side of the ball yet to expect to win on pure talent alone.


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