Army (3-7) is finishing its 12th consecutive season without a bowl bid after losing several heartbreakers earlier this year. Rutgers (5-5, 4-2 Big East), on the other hand, is looking to continue a hot streak that started last month. It would appear to be two programs headed in opposite directions, but is there more to the story?
Who Has the Edge in the Army-Rutgers game?
ARMY'S OFFENSE VS. RU'S DEFENSE
The dreaded option is back, with its cut blocking and misdirection. The Black Knights rolled up a season-high 461 yards rushing in a 38-31 loss at Rice on Nov. 9, led by running back Collin Mooney's career-high 207 yards. Army is one-dimensional, but the Black Knights have managed to turn that single dimension into the seventh-ranked rushing offense in the nation that gains 257.8 yards per game. Overall Army is ranked 103rd out of 119 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) and is dead last in passing offense. Army also has trouble holding on to the ball and has lost 21 fumbles this season.
Rutgers has shut down the feature back in most games this season and has lately made a habit of forcing turnovers. The Scarlet Knights have recovered five fumbles the past three games and have intercepted five passes. Meanwhile, RU has not allowed a team to rush for more than 138 yards in its past five contests and has held three teams to fewer than 100 yards on the ground this season.
RU'S OFFENSE VS. ARMY'S DEFENSE
Hot doesn't begin to describe how Rutgers' passing game has been the past few weeks. Fifth year senior quarterback Mike Teel is having one of the best stretches of his career, averaging 310.3 yards per game over the last three contests and throwing 12 touchdowns to five interceptions. It helps that receivers are holding on to key passes, and Kenny Britt's 110.4 yards receiving per game are third best in the nation. Rutgers has found a way to move the ball in recent weeks as well, going over 100 yards in two straight games after being held under the century mark in five straight contests.
Army has put together a solid rushing defense this year, but look for the Black Knights to throw more nickel and dime coverage at Rutgers in this contest. Army could not find an answer for Rice's pass defense two weeks ago and allowed the Owls to rack up 384 passing yards and 517 yards of total offense.
Army's Matthew Campbell has connected on seven of his nine kicks this season and is 6-for-6 inside 40 yards. He is perfect on 15 PATs this year. Punter Andrew Rinehart has blasted 11 of his 49 punts at least 50 yards, and he averages 39.3 yards per punt this season.
Rutgers has experienced difficulty in the kicking game in recent weeks, missing two extra point attempts against Pittsburgh on Oct. 25. The offense continues to score touchdowns, which has slowed the need for place-kicker San San Te to attempt field goals. He has not attempted a field goal since the Connecticut game Oct. 18.
Punter Teddy Dellaganna averages 42.2 yards per kick and has landed 17 inside the opponents' 20-yard line. However, two of his punt attempts have been blocked this season.
Army head coach Stan Brock eschewed the pro style attack that got Army creamed with regularity in 2007 for the option in his second year at West Point. It has put the Black Knights in a position to contend in most games. It's an uphill battle, but Brock seems to have Army pointed in the right direction.
Despite a 1-5 start to the season, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano told anyone and everyone not to give up on his Scarlet Knights. Now he has his team on the verge of bowl eligibility. While RU will not win as many games this season as it did when Schiano was named coach of the year in 2006, brining this team back from the dead has to be one of his greatest achievements.
RU: Red helmet with the white block R. Scarlet jersey and white pants. It's college football, and it's a lot better than the old uniforms with confusing logos.
Army: The Black Knights don't have time to be bothered with silly logos on helmets. Their plain black and gold uniforms with gold helmets tell you they're here for business. Plus, Army players wear unit patches on their uniforms.
Rutgers is on a tear and has to feel like it can beat any team in the east right now. The Scarlet Knights have eviscerated three straight opponents and are looking to extend their winning streak to five games. Despite the cold weather, will the bandwagon be loaded up for a raucous crowd Saturday?
Army has been in nearly every game this year and is certainly better than its 3-7 record would indicate. The Black Knights moved the ball at will on Rice last week, and you got the feeling they would have won if they had just a little more time on the clock. This team does not quit.
HEAD TO HEAD
Army leads the all-time series 18-16, but Rutgers has dominated the rivalry in the last couple of decades. The Scarlet Knights have won four straight against the Black Knights and have taken eight of the last 10 contests.
Army has not won more than four games in a season since 1996 and may be on its way to its third straight 3-9 campaign unless it upsets Rutgers or Navy in its final two contests.
Rutgers has risen from college football doormat to respectability in a short amount of time. The Scarlet Knights would become bowl eligible for the fourth straight year with a win against Army this week.