The Army Black Knights get 13 regular season games in 2019, and looking at the schedule, a 14th game to cap things off seems almost certain. Army’s schedule doesn’t boast many tough matchups, but they’ve turned enough heads to kick things off at 23rd on ESPN’s pre-season rankings. Michigan on Week 2 is an obvious challenge, plus road trips to Air Force and Hawaii will keep Army on their toes. Let’s take a look at the full 2019 slate for the Black Knights.
Rice (August 30th @ Michie Stadium)
Army starts off the season defending a 13-game home win streak at Michie against the Rice Owls. Rice finished 2018 second-to-last in the Conference USA - West, going 1-7 in conference play and 2-11 overall. The Owls even lost to the 1-11 UTEP Miners who ended up coming in last behind Rice in the Conference USA - West.
Army and Rice had two common opponents in 2018, Hawaii and Houston. The Owls fell to both, 43-29 and 45-27, respectively. Army on the other hand, outlasted Hawaii 28-21 and trounced Houston, 70-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl. Last season, Army stumbled against a decent Duke squad in their home opener. With more continuity heading into 2019, and an un-intimidating foe in Rice, the Black Knights should have a great tune-up heading into Week 2.
Michigan (September 7th @ Michigan)
The game that everyone is waiting for. With some exceptions, Army tends to keep things close against top-ranked teams. One need only look at list season’s outing against Oklahoma. The Black Knights pushed Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and the Sooners to the edge, but ultimately fell 28-21 in OT. While fans thoroughly enjoyed such a riveting game, Monken has no desire for moral victories.
Michigan in 2019 will be no different. However, the Black Knights face an arguably tougher, more well-rounded opponent in the Wolverines than they did against OU in 2018. Michigan went undefeated at home in 2018, and will look to defend that streak in 2019. Michigan also finished 2nd in the Big 10 East, going 8-1 in conference and 10-3 overall. Upsetting the Wolverines at home will be a tough task for Army.
UTSA (September 14th @ UTSA)
Army heads down south to take on the University of Texas - San Antonio Roadrunners, another Conference USA foe. UTSA performed marginally better than Rice, finishing 2-6 in conference play and 3-9 overall. The Roadrunners and Black Knights shared no common opponents in 2018, and Rice will be the only commonality in 2019.
After a big Week 2, UTSA will be a good game for Army to either maintain momentum heading into the rest of the season, or to bounce back after Michigan. The Black Knights must tread carefully this season so as not to overlook any opponents, but out of all the teams on the schedule in 2019, the Roadrunners don’t appear to be a likely candidate to derail Army’s season.
Morgan State (September 21st @ Michie Stadium)
Army returns to the friendly confines of Michie Stadium in Week 4 to take on the first of two FCS opponents, Morgan State. Unlike 2018, where the Black Knights faced off against respectable FCS teams such as Liberty and Colgate, Morgan State finished the 2018 season 4-7. Expect Army to score early and score often against the Bears.
Army and Morgan State have met twice before, with Army winning both prior match-ups. The most recent game, in 2016, was a 60-3 blowout victory for the Black Knights in front of the home crowd at Michie. It would be no surprise if Army puts up similar numbers against the Bears in 2019.
Tulane (October 5th @ Michie Stadium)
The Black Knights get a week off before taking on the Green Wave at home in early October. Michigan aside, this game will be the first true test for Army as Tulane turned in a respectable 7-6 record in 2018 (which included a 41-24 bowl victory against Louisiana-Lafayette in the Autonation Cure Bowl).
Army and Tulane have met eight times in the past, most recently in 2017. The Green Wave edged Army 21-17, and actually leads the overall series against Army, 5-2-1. Despite tremendous success the past few seasons, the Black Knights have still had at least one sloppy game against a team that was good enough to make them pay for it. It was Tulane in 2017 and Duke in 2018. Army needs to bring their “A” game, otherwise it could be Tulane again in 2019.
Western Kentucky (October 12th @ Western Kentucky)
In Week 7, Army heads out back on the road against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. A member of the Conference USA - East, Western Kentucky turned in a less than impressive performance in 2018. The Hilltoppers ended up at the bottom of the Conference USA - East with a 2-6 conference record and 3-9 overall record.
Army and Western Kentucky have met twice before, in 2013 and 2014. Western Kentucky won both games, with an especially convincing 52-24 win in 2014. Things are much different in 2019. While the Hilltoppers have declined since 2014, the Black Knights have been on the rise. Things look pretty good for Army to finally notch a “W” against Western Kentucky.
Georgia State (October 19th @ Georgia State)
Army remains on the road in Week 8, taking on Georgia State. Much like other teams on the schedule, the Sun Belt - East cellar dwellers don’t seem to pose much threat to the Black Knights. The Panthers went 2-10 in 2018, 1-7 in conference play.
This will be the first match-up between Army and Georgia State, and they have no common opponents in 2019. All indicators point to an Army win, as they go rolling along.
San Jose State (October 26th @ Michie Stadium)
In Week 9, Army returns home to face a repeat opponent from 2018 - the San Jose State Spartans. Expect the Spartans to be fired up at a chance to avenge their loss in 2018. They received an absolute clinic at the hands of the Black Knights in front of their home crowd.
After San Jose State drew first blood, Army responded with 52 unanswered points including a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. Despite a last place finish in the Mountain West - West at 1-11 (1-7 conference), odds are the Spartans will clean up their act in 2019. While still a likely Army win, it probably won’t come as easily as it did in 2018.
Air Force (November 2nd @ Air Force)
CIC match-up #1 for Army. As with any service academy game, this game will be an emotional, low-scoring dogfight of a game. Army is riding a two-game winning streak against the Falcons, which started back in 2017 when Army blanked Air Force 21-0 at Falcon Stadium. Army held on in 2018 for a 17-14 win, which led to further bad blood after some passionate, yet unprofessional extracurriculars were exchanged as the game ended.
2019’s Army-Air Force game promises to be a heated affair, with victory likely going to the team that can keep their composure throughout the game. Despite Army cracking ESPN’s pre-season Top 25 rankings at #23, the Falcons are actually favored in this game according to ESPN’s own Football Power Index. Finishing 5-7 last season, Air Force just missed bowl eligibility, but they are still dangerous and can’t be overlooked.
Massachusetts (November 9th @ Michie Stadium)
Week 11 finds Army back home against the UMass Minuteman, a fellow Independent. It’s been almost 15 years since Army and UMass last played each other, and only once before that. Both games were Army victories. Neither team had a common opponent in 2018, and won’t have one in 2019 either.
The Minuteman posted a 4-8 record in 2018 against a decent schedule. Army appears to be one of the tougher opponents on UMass’ docket in 2019, but they don’t appear to be equipped to seriously challenge the Black Knights, especially on their home turf.
Virginia Military Institute (November 16th @ Michie Stadium)
Army closes out its home schedule against a second FCS opponent, VMI. VMI, while not a federal service academy, has a renowned and robust ROTC program much like Texas A&M, the Citadel, and Norwich. The Black Knights and the Keydets have clashed 12 times since 1917, most recently in 2010.
Army commands a 11-1 series lead, and will look for its 12th win in 2019. VMI, on the other hand, may only be looking at how to turn their program around. Much like Morgan State, VMI hasn’t fared well in FCS competition as of late. The Keydets posted an abysmal 1-10 record in 2018, going 0-8 in their conference.
Hawaii (November 30th @ Hawaii)
After VMI, the Black Knights get a week off over Thanksgiving before traveling to the Aloha State to take on the Rainbow Warriors at home. Hawaii presented a tough challenge for Army in 2018, as the Black Knights squeaked by with a 28-21 victory. 2019 looks to be no different, and Hawaii will have home field advantage this time around.
Hawaii finished in the middle of the pack in the Mountain West in 2018, going 5-3 in conference play and 8-6 overall. The Rainbow Warriors capped things off with a bowl appearance, but fell to Louisiana Tech 31-14 in the Hawaii Bowl. Hawaii will be looking to avenge their 2018 loss, and will be a tough challenge for Army in the final stretch of the season.
Navy (December 14th @ Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA)
2019 marks the 120th edition of the storied Army-Navy game. While Navy currently leads the overall series, Army has been hot lately and are on a three game win streak. Navy head coach Ken Niumatatolo and his staff are back at the drawing board after a disappointing outing in 2018, where they finished last in the AAC West with a 2-6 conference record and 3-10 overall.
Just like the Air Force game, Navy will be a tight, emotional game. The Black Knights are riding high after years of Navy supremacy. Conversely, the Midshipmen want to turn the tide soon before they succumb to a lengthy losing streak themselves. Navy may not turn things around completely in 2019, but don’t expect an easy game out of them in Philadelphia.
A few seasons of continued success have thrust Army into the national spotlight once again. 2019 will be a statement year for the Black Knights. Analysts criticize Army’s strength of schedule, especially with two FCS games on the slate. Much of Army’s aspiration for greatness hinges on their ability to beat an elite team like Michigan. Doing it on the road would make it all the more impressive. Another measure of success depends on the Black Knights’ ability to snuff out each opponent in 2019, credible foe or not.
Talks of a 13-0 season, #HopforHeisman and other lofty aspirations for the season have made the rounds on social media. I’m sure those types of goals, along with keeping the CIC and making another consecutive bowl appearance, are among Army’s team goals for 2019. Regardless, they will achieve those goals only by applying Coach Monken’s mindset of taking the season one game at a time.