The Commander-In-Chief’s trophy is on the line this Saturday, as the Black Knights take on the Falcons at home. With Army 3-0 at home, and 6-2, overall after their win last week against Eastern Michigan, they are hoping that all roads point to another victory, which would secure them the CIC Trophy in consecutive seasons for the first time ever.
Although the Falcons couldn’t come home with a win last week against Boise State, Isaiah Sanders completed 10 of his 15 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns and led the way with 97 rushing yards and another score. This hasn’t been the strongest season for Air Force. They are currently tied with Wyoming for the bottom of the Mountain West Mountain Division at 1-4. Overall, they’re currently 3-5, but a win this Saturday would serve to salvage their season and give them a much needed confidence boost. Winning the CIC Trophy for a record 21st time and getting them two wins away from bowl eligibility would be a nice way to start November.
Army comes in at 6-2, and there is no doubt the home field advantage will play in their favor. Heading into Saturday on a four-game winning streak, Kelvin Hopkins Jr. leads Army with 596 rushing yards on the season. Last week’s wins against Eastern Michigan, Hopkins showed just how versatile he can be as he was successful getting the ball downfield. He completed 7 of 8 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns during the game, proving yet again that he can beat you with his arm and his legs. Actually, both teams have found balance of late, with both Hopkins and Sanders finding 100 yard passing and rushing games in recent weeks.
Both teams know each other well, seeing the triple option throughout the season, though they each have their own wrinkles to the offense. For the Black Knights, continuing to make those conversions on 3rd and 4th down at a high rate are crucial as we know if Army gets a chance to take it to the red zone—they’ll go for it. Army has made more third downs (72) than any other team in the country and is converting them at the third best rate, behind only Alabama and Boise State. They are even better on 4th down. They have gone for it a staggering 29 times on 4th down this season, and have converted an even more staggering 26 of those. That’s nearly 90% on 4th down. Both the number made and rate are the highest in the country.
Needless to say, the Black Knights will be looking to continue that success on their drives on Saturday, and against an Air Force defense that has dealt with its share of injuries, they believe they will be successful. Any chance Air Force has of winning back the CIC trophy will be predicated on whether they can get Army off the field on third and fourth down.
Kickoff: 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 3rd
Where: Michie Stadium, West Point N.Y.
Rankings: In Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings, Army is 78th and Air Force is 94th (for an explainer on S&P+, click here).
Spread: Army is favored by 7 points. Connelly projects a final score of 36-27, predicting Army will cover.
Don’t forget to join us during the game at @AAE_SBN on Twitter, as we will be pumped to see who brings home the CIC Trophy in 2018.