Armed Forces Bowl
San Diego State
The last few Armed Forces Bowls have been higher scoring and two of them involved military academies in Air Force and Navy. Now, Army gets to try its hand against a San Diego State team that only had two losses, both in the MWC. Because of that, the Aztecs were -7.5 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Fort Worth.
San Diego State lost two unfortunate home Games against Boise State and Fresno State and that kept it out of the MWC title Game. Still, this is a team that closed the season with Four wins all by at least 19 points to go with a win over Stanford earlier in the season. The Aztecs also already dealt with the triple-option, beating Air Force 28-24 earlier in the season.
As for Army, it also beat Air Force 21-0 and had an impressive regular season at 9-3 overall. The Black Knights could’ve had an even better season, but lost close road Games at Tulane and North Texas. For the most part, defense has been key for both of these teams and that’ll be the main talking point in this one.
But while SDSU beat Air Force, it should be noted the Falcons weren’t that good this season, finishing with a losing record. In that Game, Air Force ran for 220 yards and three touchdowns and if it wasn’t for a weak defense, could’ve upset SDSU. While the Black Knights give up 4.9 yards per carry, they clamped down toward the end of the season, keeping teams like Air Force, Duke and North Texas in check. Sure, Navy ran wild against them, but still only managed 13 points.
But if Army’s rush defense doesn’t show up here, this one could get out of hand. The Aztecs don’t run a triple-option, but still run twice as much as they pass. Rashaad Penny (2,027 yards, 19 TDs), who was considered a Heisman snub by many, ran for at least 200 yards in each of the last Four Games of the season. Throw in backup RB Juwan Washington, who has 715 rushing yards, and that’s all this offense needs. When quarterback Christian Chapman is asked to pass more, that’s when this team falls apart. Sure, he only has three interceptions this season, but he also never threw for more than 240 yards in a Game.
If Army’s rush defense can have one of its better Games, that would at least make things interesting in this Game. If not, the Black Knights may have too tall of a wall to climb. It also doesn’t help that SDSU already faced a triple-option, so it knows what it’s up against. That said, practicing against it for a month leading to the bowl Game and beating it are two different things. There’s a reason Army beat North Texas in its bowl last season even after losing in its matchup earlier in the year.
The problem is that the Aztecs give up just 3.5 yards per carry and 110 rushing yards per Game. Even though they gave up over 200 yards to Air Force, those numbers can’t be ignored.
Army has been able to move the ball on almost every defense this season outside of Ohio State. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw has put together his best season with 1,566 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Tailbacks Darnell Woolfolk (12 TDs), Kell Walker (7.3 ypc) and Andy Davidson have done the rest. If Army has success moving the ball, that’ll be enough to keep this Game competitive and getting in line for the cover.
However, if Penny does whatever he wants on the other end, the chances for an Army upset will be slim. The Aztecs are 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 non-Conference Games and 2-7 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Black Knights are 5-2 ATS in their last seven on a neutral site, but 1-5 ATS against the MWC.
Our Pick – Army +6.5