When and Where: 12 p.m. at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y.
Series History: 30-13-1 in favor of the Falcons. Air Force has won the last four, including a 35-7 win last season.
Matchup: Army comes into the game at 5-3, looking for one more win to become bowl eligible. The Black Knights sport the seventh-best rushing attack in the FBS, as well as one of the top defenses in the country in yards allowed.
Air Force, led by Head Coach Troy Calhoun, is 5-4. After starting out 5-1, the Falcons were ranked in the Top 25 and seemed ready to make some national noise. They have since hit a three-game slide, with losses to San Diego State, TCU, and Utah.
Air Force will be without one of the major cogs in its rushing attack, Jared Tew, who has a broken bone in his leg. Still, the Falcons will have dangerous running back Asher Clark as well as playmaking quarterback Tim Jefferson in the lineup. Air Force’s rushing offense is ranked second in the country.
An interesting storyline for Army is Jared Hassin, who transferred from Air Force after about a week at Air Force last year. Hassin has rushed for over 100 yards in his last three games. He is 43rd in the country in rushing, and has only been stopped for a loss once the entire season – a 1-yard loss in the game at Tulane.
Player to Watch: MLB Stephen Anderson. It will be a special day on Saturday – senior day – and who better than senior captain Stephen Anderson to have a big day? Last season he registered a career-high 16 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss before suffering a season-ending injury against Air Force. He will be counted on once again to contain the Falcons.
Potential X-Factor: FB Jared Hassin. Playing against the school he originally attended, this is the type of game Hassin was coveted for. He has fulfilled all of Army’s expectations so far – a player at fullback that can threaten the middle of the defense consistently, while also bring big-play potential to the table. Army will need a big game from Hassin if they plan on winning. Army will need to control the pace of the game by consistently using Hassin. It will be interesting to see how the added threat of Hassin allows Army to attack the Air Force defense in different ways this year.
Prediction: I already mentioned that it will be a special day Saturday, but it bears repeating. Outside of senior day, Army will be donning their new “Dress Gray” uniforms for the first time. This game also presents a chance for Army to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1996 and is the first leg of their quest for the Commander-in-Chief trophy, which they have not won since that 1996 season. It is important to point out that a loss here really adds pressure in regards to Army’s bowl picture, as the Army-Navy game will not count towards their bowl eligibility since it occurs December 11.
This team seems to show improvement every week. They would not have been ready for this game in week one, week five, or week seven. They are ready now. The offensive attack is efficient and the defense has been able to make big plays. Those negative plays will hinder the Air Force offense, and Army grinds out a tough one.
Army 24, Air Force 16
About the Author
Written by Donald Lappe
Senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Double Major in Media & Society and United States History. Also writing for TapouT Magazine and MMA Worldwide Magazine.