Week 11 - Army at Rutgers

Posted Nov 7, 2012

Week 11 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Army at Rutgers

Army (2-7) at Rutgers (7-1) Nov. 10, 12:00, ESPNU

Here's The Deal: Rutgers isn't going to go undefeated this season, but what has really changed?

Sure, losing to Kent State before the break was a bitter pill for a ranked team to swallow, but the goal of winning a program-first Big East remains no less alive. The Scarlet Knights, which had their bye week complicated by Hurricane Sandy, will play one more non-league game before beginning a stretch of three critical contests with Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Louisville that'll decide their postseason fate.

With all due respect to Rutgers, Army might have a tough time maintaining its focus this Saturday. The glow of scorching Air Force, 41-21, to snap a 13-game losing streak against fellow service academies is going to linger for a while. Yeah, the Black Knights are five games below .500, but now that the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy is in play for the first time since 1996, the team has suddenly perked up for the stretch run.

Why Army Might Win: The offense is peaking at the right time in the season.

The Black Knights lead the country in rushing, and became the first team all season to hang as many as 41 points on the Air Force defense. With QB Trent Steelman at the controls of the triple-option, Army boasts three players, including backs Raymond Maples and Larry Dixon, who've rushed for at least 591 yards this season. When last seen, the Rutgers D was surprisingly pliable versus a supposedly weaker opponent, giving up 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a loss to Kent State.

Why Rutgers Might Win: Yeah, the Knights had a blip two weeks ago, but they're still the best D Army will face all year.

Rutgers not only has talent, but also the luxury of time to prepare for the Army option. The Knights rank No. 4 nationally in run defense, giving up just 2.8 yards per carry. Without having to worry about the threat of a passing attack, they'll be able to flood running lanes with quality run defenders, such as linebackers Khaseem Greene, Steve Beauharnais and Jamal Merrell. On the reverse side, the 111th-ranked Black Knights run defense must worry about containing RB Jawan Jamison, who has chugged for at least 100 yards in six of this year's eight games.

What To Watch Out For: The Knights coaching staff was none too pleased with Gary Nova's recent outing, but he remains the team's starting quarterback.

Nova threw six picks in the loss to Kent State, regressing for the first time in his sophomore season. Still, the program has faith in its franchise quarterback, who'll be helped by an ensemble of big and physical receivers on the flanks. Army has been abused through the air for most of the season, encouraging news for Nova as he attempts to put his last game behind him.

What Will Happen: Having received its wake-up call, Rutgers is primed to get back to business. The Scarlet Knights have too much balance on offense, and too many stoppers on D, to suffer a second straight upset defeat. While Army will still be beaming after the rout of Air Force a week ago, Rutgers will operate with a chip on its shoulder, never getting threatened in Piscataway.

CFN Prediction: Rutgers 35 … Army 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Rutgers -18 O/U: 51.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Skyfall, 1 – Wreck It Ralph): 2