Rutgers-Army preview

Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

Previewing the day's action

Don't screw up.

Sometimes the better team on paper blows it. We saw it with Rutgers and Kent State two weeks ago, and the basketball team last night. We saw it with UConn last year. Don't take an opponent seriously, let your guard down, and bad things can happen. This is after all an Army team that upset Air Force and Boston College. One cannot forget either that defending against the triple option is no picnic, especially since referees are loath to call cut blocks against service academy teams.

That's all true, but none of that changes the fact that, objectively, Army is not very good. Air Force was a shocking upset, but Boston College just is genuinely that bad, and matched up poorly with Army due to BC's lack of athleticism. Rutgers is coming off an upset is back down to earth again, and knows that the Black Knights already have two of these wins this year. That should not disguise the fact that this team is 2-7. They have a few close losses in there, but were embarrassed by San Diego State, and humiliated at home against Stony Brook. Also of note was a respectable loss to Kent State, not that transitivity means a damn thing with respect to a turnover-fueled nightmare.

With any option team, the key is to go up early and force them to get out of their comfort zone with having to pass more. With Army, I've always thought that Rutgers had speed to stop their slotbacks outside. It was inside, with a QB running threat, and using a bruising fullback was where they always seemed to be most dangerous. The key is to win early downs on defense and force them into third and long. The last thing anyone needs is Army marching down the field with long drives and accumulating time of possession. That's their gameplan, making the key to fight fire with fire by riding Jawan Jamison hard. Also, given their lack of size, this might be a good matchup for Savon Huggins too.

Rutgers will win. And if they do not, boy, will there be hell to pay.

Prediction: Rutgers 34, Army 17

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