The Army Black Knights hit the road Saturday to take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Army is coming off a heartbreaking loss against Tulane at home last weekend, and will be looking to get back on track. A preseason eyeball test might’ve concluded yet another resounding win for the Black Knights, but as we’ve seen thus far, there’s no such thing as a sure thing in college football, let alone for Army.
On paper, Rice, UTSA, and Morgan State should’ve been blowout wins but turned out to be anything but. Looking at the numbers, Army and Western Kentucky are actually quite similar, with Army having the slightest edge. ESPN has the Black Knights with a 56.3% win probability based on their FPI.
Army’s biggest edge is on offense, where they average about 10 points more than the Hilltoppers per game (30.2 vs 21.8). The Black Knights also barely outgain Western Kentucky in terms of yards per game. However, the yardage breakdowns are flip flopped. Army averages just 72.8 passing yards along with 273.4 rushing yards for a total of 346.2 yards. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky passes for 234.4 yards on average with only 97 rushing yards for a total of 331.4.
Despite losing last weekend to Tulane, the offense seemed to have turned a corner in terms of turnovers. The Black Knights did not fumble; however, there seemed to be an uncharacteristically high number of pass plays worked into the mix for an offense that’s biggest weapon is its rushing attack. With any luck, Army should be able to get back to its run-first mentality and find success against the Hilltoppers.
On defense, Army and Western Kentucky again seem relatively well-matched (with the Hilltoppers getting the edge this time), but also flip flopped. Army and Western Kentucky’s defenses are allowing 335.2 yards and 303.4 yards, respectively. For Army, 186.8 of those yards are on through the air and 148.4 on the ground. Conversely, Western Kentucky allows 193.6 passing yards, but only 109.8 rushing yards.
Army is expected to be missing some of its secondary this weekend due to injuries, which might mitigate the Black Knights’ advantage defending against Western Kentucky’s passing game. Fortunately for Army, the Hilltoppers have a tendency to turn the ball over, and Army has proved to be quite effective at forcing turnovers and turning them into points.
This game has big implications for both teams. The Hilltoppers have a respectable 3-2 record, and a win against Army would be a huge boost to their credibility as a quality program given Army’s flirting with national attention the past couple of seasons. For the Black Knights, this game is a chance to rebound, to wash out the bitter taste of the loss to Tulane, and to get back on track with the high expectations the team has for the season.
Army is 0-2 against Western Kentucky all-time, and will be looking to finally get their first win against the Hilltoppers. With Fort Campbell being located in Kentucky, Army will be honoring the 101st Airborne Division this weekend with their helmet stickers.
Game Day Info
- Opponent: Western Kentucky University
- Mascot: Big Red
- Stadium: L.T. Smith Stadium
- Watch: Stadium
- Capacity: 42,101
- Surface: Field Turf
- Tickets: Starting at $17 on StubHub
- Kickoff Time: 7:00 pm EST
- Odds: Army is favored by -4/5. O/U is 43.5.
- Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy with a chance of precipitation and temperatures expected in the low-60s.