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Army vs. Michigan: Can the Black Knights pull out the upset in the Big House?

Army has to stick to fundamentals and take advantage of Michigan’s mistakes (if they make any).

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NCAA Football: Rice at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost that time! On Saturday afternoon, Army will take on the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Whether you’re a service academy fan or not, you have to admit this game is on everyone’s radar.

For several years, Army has seen a match up against a Power 5 team. Last year, it was a nail biter of a loss to the very end at Oklahoma. Before that, there was a double-digit beating against Ohio. But now it’s 2019, and as many have noticed, Coach Jeff Monken has done his surest to turn this program around. So what’s in store this year for the Black Knights as they go up against the seventh-ranked team in the country?

For starters, Army is looking at a fast, pass-heavy offense. Michigan compiled a total of 453 offensive yards in their victory last weekend over Middle Tennessee State. Comparatively, Army had a total of 284 yards against a much-improved Rice team. Shea Patterson (one of two of U-M’s quarterbacks) threw for 203 yards in 17-of-29 in their 40-21 win. Now if you’re a numbers type of person, that’s a pretty big gap in comparison to Kelvin Hopkins 53 yards, 3-8 passing in week one.

What we saw in the Rice game was a pressured defense that forced the Black Knights to get creative. Remember that trick reverse play on 3rd-and-9 when Kelvin Hopkins Jr. threw to Christian Hayes for a 35-yard gain? Yeah, that was awesome, but if Army is expected to put up numbers against U-M, let’s hope that Black Knights consistently pull out those type of creative plays.

Jeff Monken shared some thoughts on the upcoming game, saying ”It is an opportunity to measure ourselves against the very best in college football. It is a privilege to play a team like this. Not everyone in college football gets to play in atmospheres like this or play teams as talented and as well-coached and well-respected as Michigan.”

At Michigan, you’ve got a freshman RB Zach Charbonnet who, in his first career start, led the team with 90 years on eight carries; LB Khaleke Hudson who racked up eight tackles; and LB Jordan Glasgow with two sacks. It’s also not lost that nine U-M receivers caught passes last weekend.

Even more, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, who led Michigan in receptions and receiving TDs in 2018, along with LT Jon Runyan Jr., and DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Donovan Jeter weren’t on the field last weekend. In his last press conference, Jim Harbaugh indicated that may not be the case this weekend. Michigan is going to pull out the stops against Army. Their no-huddle pace and depth of the roster could wear down the Black Knights early on, but even a top-ranked team like the Wolverines make mistakes.

Against MTSU, U-M had two turnovers, compiled 55 penalty yards and fumbled a few times. Is that much to panic over? Certainly not in week one, but if you’re an Army fan, these small mistakes are great opportunities to regain ball possession, which we know the Black Knights are darn-near experts at doing (hello, 2018 stats). With a steady offense focused on 3rd and 4th down conversions, controlling the clock, and limiting mistakes on the part of the Black Knights, Army could stay the course until the last quarter.

It’s unclear if Connor Slomka will be back on the field Saturday, but Army fans should certainly hope so. Cole Christiansen was back on his grind with a team-high of seven tackles last week and Sandon McCoy made his debut, albeit with a few moments of pressure. But with a disciplined quarterback in Kelvin Hopkins Jr. and host of great, experienced talent on the roster, who knows what could happen Saturday afternoon. After all, it is college football.

This is the two teams’ 10th meeting, dating back to the first one in 1962. While Army leads the series with a 5-4 advantage, Michigan has come out victorious in the last four match ups.

We spent a good portion of our last podcast talking about Army’s week one game against Rice as well as what it will take to defeat Michigan this weekend, so give it a listen as well!

Game Day Info

Opponent: University of Michigan

Mascot: Wolverines

Stadium: Michigan Stadium a.k.a the “Big House”

Capacity: 107,601

Surface: Field Turf

Tickets: Starting at $40 on StubHub

Kickoff Time: 12:00 pm EST

TV: Fox, Fox Sports Go (Livestream)

Satellite: XM 203 (Streaming 967), XM 83 (Streaming 83)

Odds: Michigan is favored by 23. O/U is 47.5

Weather Forecast: Kick-off temps around 76 degrees, partly cloudy with 0% chance of rain.