Key Matchups: Army vs. San Jose State

Kelvin Hopkins and lineman
(U.S. Army photo by Brandon O'Connor)

The eighth game of the year matches the Army West Point Black Knights (3-4, Sagarin 86) and the Mountain West West San Jose Spartans (3-4, Sagarin 127).  Army leads the series 1-0, with Army blasting the Spartans 52-3, in Santa Clara last year.  Both teams come into this game on losing streaks.  Both teams desperately need to win to put themselves in a position for a winning season and pre-Christmas bowl game birth.

Last Week

In Atlanta, VA

The Panthers scored on four of six possessions and gained 379 yards and beat the Black Knights 28-21.

Army came with a game plan to get the ground game working and limit the Panther possessions.  Army was very close to executing the plan but were forced to punt on two possessions and fumbled on another.  Simply put, Georgia State out executed Army.

Army gained 345 yards in total offense and held the ball for 38:08.  Senior Fullback Connor Slomka lead the way with 89 yards on 10 carries.  Junior Fullback Sandon McCoy had 71 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.   Army gained 278 yards rushing.  However, if you take out Slomka’s 38 yard rush, the team averaged 4.0 yards per carry.  That leaves very little room for error.  A penalty or negative run puts the drive in jeopardy.  In short, this team does not have the reliable offense of the past three years and has completely changed the complexion of the team.

Senior Quarterback Dan Ellington had a fantastic day.  He was 20/28 for 232 yards and three touchdowns.  Senior Running Back Tra Barnett rushed 17 times for 108 yards and a touchdown.  Army knew who was going to get targeted but could not stop the Georgia State Offense in the second half.

Overall, it was a great game and Army had a chance to win.  Georgia State was just a little better.  The unsettling thing is that Georgia State came into the game as the #111 team in the country.  The Black Knights entered the season with top 20 expectations and have been beaten by teams ranked outside the top 100.  Now the team will have to rally to make a pre-Christmas Bowl game.  They had better find an answer on offense or they could get embarrassed against the sister academies who have been waiting for payback.

Last Week

In San Jose, CA

The Aztecs gained 348 yards,260 on the ground and held the ball for 40 minutes, as they beat the Spartans in a close game, 27-17.

The game started with the Senior Aztec Kick Returner, Kaugun Williams, returning the kick for 95 yards for a touchdown.  Outside of that, the Aztecs scored two field goals on four first half possessions.  The San Diego State did themselves no favors, committing 12 penalties.  Senior Runningback Juwan Washington lead the way with 78 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

The Spartans gained their yards through the air.  Senior Quarterback Josh Love was 19/36 for 218 yards for two touchdowns and an interception.  Freshman Kairee Robinson rushed 14 times for 59 yards.  Love distributed his passes to six different receivers.

Who is favored?

Army is favored by 9.5 points

What to look for?

The Spartans average 27.6 points a game and 395 yards per game.  Their defense yields 29 points and 445 yards per game.  Opponents average 223.7 yards per game rushing and 4.6 yards per rush.  Opponents hold the ball for 34 minutes per game.

The Spartans played the Air Force Falcons the fifth game of the year.  Senior Fullback Taven Birdow rushed 25 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns.  The fullback dive will be the key on Saturday.  Will McCoy, Slomka and Buchanan be able to consistently move the ball or will the Spartans crash the line and stop drives.  Army has not had many long runs or plays this year and touchdown drives normally consist of many plays and third down conversions.  A negative play or a penalty ruins drives and forces punts.

The Spartans play a 3-4 defense.  The Senior Spartan Nose Tackle Sailosi latu is 310 lbs.  The Defensive Ends Freshman Junior Fehoko and Sophomore Cade Hall are 235 lbs.  The linebackers will be very active in crashing the fullback dive and thwarting the outside run.

Army should match up well against this defense, but will they be able to score on the majority of their drives?  They have not been able to do this the past three weeks.  The Spartan offense is exactly what Army has seen each of the previous seven weeks.  Josh Love will throw the ball 35 times.  Will Army be able to put pressure on Love?  They have had little success doing this the past three weeks.

Army will make the fullback dive work and they will get on track.

Final Score – Army 28 – San Jose State 10 (predictions in 2019, 3-3)

This game will be shown on CBSSTV at 12:00 PM EDT.

Picks from the Ridge (1-2)


Kansas State +23.5 over Oklahoma

Houston +7 over SMU

Kentucky + 10.5 over Missouri

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