Army vs Houston : You won’t find many bowl games with more contrasting styles than the Armed Forces Bowl. Then again, most games involving Army are ones of contrasting styles. The Black Knights are a triple-option nightmare and the results show. Army won 10 games for a second straight season
NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL
LOCKHEED MARTIN ARMED FORCES BOWL 2018
Houston vs Army Live
Saturday, December 22
Start Time : 3:30 PM ET
Houston vs Army LivE
Can Army put a cap on its standout year or will Houston rebound from a rough November in which it lost three of its final four games? Here’s what you need to know about the Armed Forces Bowl below …
Army: The offense gets all the attention, but it’s really Army’s defense that has been the difference. Defensive coordinator Jay Bateman was hired away by North Carolina, but the foundation he installed is in place. The Knights are giving up a mere 18 points per game and have allowed 28 touchdowns all season. They’re also one of the best defenses at keeping opposing offenses out of the red zone (27 attempts). A lot of these numbers are due to Army’s ball-hogging offense — Army’s defensive efficiency is far lower — but against a potent offense like Houston’s, Army will need to find some key stops.
Houston: Go back to the end of October and the Cougars were 7-1 and ranked in the AP Top 25. Then, things unraveled. Oliver had been dealing with a knee injury and was basically unable to contribute for the final month of the season. Then, adding insult to injury, King went down with a season-ending knee injury against Tulane. As a result, the Cougars lost three of their final four games and were unable to capture the AAC West crown. How this offense performs will be interesting to watch as playing Army usually means limited possessions. There won’t be many opportunities to score so Houston needs to make the most of them.
The Black Knights run the triple option and do it well. They lead college football with 766 rushing attempts (nearly 64 rushes per game), and while time of possession isn’t normally a pertinent stat, they’re also No. 1 in that category as well at 38:50 per game — nearly four minutes more than the next team. Playing Army is a grind and even with time to prepare, can Houston’s defense stop this immovable object?Honestly,
this isn’t the year that Houston imagined. One that saw its two star players deal with injuries all year, and the firing of their defensive coordinator. This isn’t the bowl game that fans imagined when the Cougars were 7-1, but this game still has plenty of importance. The Armed Forces Bowl will feature Houston, a team that was once ranked and a favorite to face UCF in the AAC Championship Game, and Army. Fans are excited for this matchup believe it or not, and the proof is in a sellout.
Houston has endured quite the roller coaster this season, and they look quite different than they did at the beginning of the year. D’Eriq King, Ed Oliver, Isaiah Chambers, Jerard Carter, Garrett Davis, Payton Turner and Isaiah Johnson will not be participating in the bowl game for various reasons. That’s the quarterback of the team and six starters/valuable contributors that won’t be playing. What that means is young players will get playing time in a big game.
Clayton Tune took over for King in the Tulane game after King tore his meniscus in his knee, and has shown some flashes of potential. He may not be the athlete that King is, but Tune can be a good dual threat in Houston’s system. Outside of King, the offense has almost all of its key players playing.
The Mark D’Onofrio experiment failed miserably for Houston, and injuries certainly didn’t help. Losing every starter on the defensive line is tough to overcome, but Houston’s front seven needs to be better. The Cougars face a Black Knights team that is second in the country in rushing yards per game with nearly 300 yards per contest. Houston ranks 98th in the country in rush defense. So what good can come out of this?
This is going to be tough for Houston. Army is a good team, and their record clearly indicates that. Stopping the option hasn’t been impossible for the Cougars lately, but that’s because they had Ed Oliver. This might be Houston’s toughest task this year, and it comes down to the youth of this team to step up in their biggest game yet.