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Army football preview: Black Knights set to take on Rice

The Black Knights kick off their season at home on Friday night against the Rice Owls.

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NCAA Football: Armed Forces Bowl-Army vs Houston Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost that time.

On Friday night at 6:00 pm EST, Army will take on Rice at Michie Stadium to open up their 2019 football season. While we’ve given our game by game preseason predictions for the fall and talked about Army’s schedule as a whole, let’s take a bit of a dive into what the Black Knights are up against come Friday.

Army is starting this season on a nine-game winning streak, which is the second longest in the country behind Clemson. After receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Poll to start the season, the Black Knights are certain to bring their A game during the home opener before taking on the Michigan Wolverines in week two.

Keep in the back of your mind, Army had some major losses the roster last year including Darnell Woolfolk, Jordan Asberry, James Nachtigal, Andy Davidson, Max Regan, Kenneth Brinson, James Gibson, Chandler Ramirez, Mike Reynolds, and Wunmi Oyetuga. Still, that leaves the team with 23 seniors on the two-deep going into Friday.

With Kelvin Hopkins Jr. back under center, you can expect both Kell Walker and Connor Slomka to have a heavy presence on the ground. Don’t sleep on Artice Hobbs out of the backfield either.

On the defensive side of the ball, Cole Christiansen returns as a two-time team captain to anchor the linebacker corps alongside Arik Smith. Of all the position groups on this team, the deepest and most talented could be the defensive backfield. With Elijah Riley, Cam Jones, Javhari Bourdeau, and Jaylon McClinton all returning, Army will be ready for everything the Rice offense will throw its way.

“We’ve got a tremendous challenge on Friday night with a very talented Rice team,” said Coach Monken.

The Owls are unique in that they have three possible quarterbacks to utilize on the field. Coach Mike Bloomgreen, however, has made it clear that sophomore, Wiley Green, who threw for 621 yards and three scores during his four-game appearance last year, has earned the QB spot for the season opener. He got three starts last year including a big season ending win against ODU.

Last year’s leading touchdown machine Aaron Cephus was suspended indefinitely in the spring and is no longer an asset on the Rice roster, however the team does have leading receiver Austin Trammell back who was the team’s leading receiver last year. Add in the fact that Aston Walter was given an extra year of eligibility after a medical hardship waiver at running back and the Owls definitely have some talent at the skill positions.

The Black Knights will also see in Rice is a young, fresh defense, and a nearly brand new O-line thanks so a handful of graduate transfers in including Brian Chaffin, Nick Leverett, and Justin Gooseberry. This is still a team coming off a 2-11 season that was not overly great on either offense or defense, but you can expect to see some improvement in year two under former Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren for sure.

The pair have met on eight previous occasions with Army coming out with a victory in the most recent match up on the road in 2017, 49-12.

Rice Owls at Army Black Knights Game Day Info

Opponent: Rice

Mascot: Owls

Stadium: Michie Stadium

Capacity: 38,000

Surface: Field Turf

Tickets: Starting at $24 on StubHub

Kickoff Time: 6:00 pm EST

TV: CBS Sports Network: Ben Holden (Play by Play) Ross Tucker (color analyst), Tina Cervasio (sidelines)

Radio: WBNR (1260 AM, Beacon, N.Y.); WLNA (1420 AM, Peekskill, N.Y.)

Satellite: Sirius 137; XM 202

Odds: Army is favored -21.5; O/U is 48

All-Time Series: 4-3-1 in favor of Rice

Last Game: Army won 49-12

Weather Forecast: Kick-off temps around 82 degrees, partly cloudy with 0% chance of rain, winds from the WSW at 8 MPH.

Hype:

It’s time to spot the ball! Your 2019 Army football season is now just ONE DAY AWAY!