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Army football season preview: Who will the Black Knights face in their amended 2020 season?

The Cadets have a few first-ever matchups and friendly faces before their final game in Philadelphia.

NCAA Football: San Jose State at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The pandemic has shifted college sports for the rest of year and arguably for years to come. As various conferences have, and continue to alter their schedules, being Independent has allowed Army some flexibility in scheduling more opponents. As it stands, the Black Knights have 12 games with the first against being Middle Tennessee State. Here’s a look at what the Cadets will face in the months to come.

vs. Middle Tennessee State

When: Sept. 5, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m. EST

How to Watch: CBSSN

Need to know: In Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings, MTSU is humbly listed at 107th (with Army at 99th) but it’s worth noting the Blue Raiders didn’t have the best 2019 season. They finished 4-8 overall and missed an opportunity to pull off an upset against Western Kentucky, which finished 2nd in C-USA East last year. Unlike, Army, who was plagued by juggling injuries in 2019, MTSU returns Asher O’ Hara, who became the second quarterback in school history to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season.

The redshirt junior’s individual performance is responsible for the limited offensive success MTSU did have last season, despite 14 lost turnovers and five lost fumbles. He will face a veteran defensive line who is no stranger to a speedy quarterback. It’s also the first game of steadily changing season in the middle of a global pandemic, so who knows what we can expect.

It is worth noting that Army is going ahead with Christian Anderson at quarterback for now, according to a depth chart released this week and the Times Herald-Record.

vs. Lousiana-Monroe

When: Sept. 12, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m. EST

How to Watch: CBSSN

Need to know: The Warhawks are coming off an 11-day practice halt after an increase in coronavirus cases and enduring Hurricane Laura. According to The News Star, ULM just began their team walk-through’s this week. The team closed out last season at 5-7 overall, were riddled with fumbles and lacked in third down conversations. Just weeks ago, scrimmages were primed to help head coach Matt Viator identify the next quarterback following Caleb Evans graduating last year. Previous reports mentioned sophomore Colby Suits would be first out during summer camp, so the Warhawks are juggling a lot of outside factors to put together their team in the coming weeks.

vs. BYU

When: Sept. 19 2020 @ 3:30 p.m. EST

How to Watch: CBS

Need to know: There’s not much history here as it is the first-ever meeting between the two teams. What we do know is this team will see Navy just 12 days before and will give fans (and the team) an idea of what to expect when they’re up against the triple option. Along with the Cougars having Zach Wilson as quarterback, BYU has a slew of sizable tight ends that may put Army’s pass rush abilities to the test. On defense for BYU, Shad Hansen is worth keeping an eye on.

at No. 20 Cincinnati

When: Sept. 26, 2020 (Time TBD)

Where: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

How to Watch: TBD

Need to know: Cincinnati was picked to finish No. 2 in the AAC preseason poll and No. 20 in the AP preseason poll. 16 of 22 starters are returning on offense and after finishing 11-3 last season, some may argue (me, I’m arguing this) this might be one of the marquee games in Army’s amended schedule. Fun fact: the pair first met in 1998 and have split the series evenly with three wins each. They haven’t met since 2004, when both were members of CUSA.

vs. Abilene Christian

When: Oct. 3, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m. EST

How to Watch: CBSSN

Need to know: ACU finished sixth in the Southland Conference in 2019 and will play Army for the first time this fall. The Wildcats finished 5-7 last season, though junior quarterback Sema’j Davis had a laundry list of single-game highs including a 62 yard pass vs. Southeastern Louisiana and a 75-yard run vs. Houston Baptist. Indeed, he’s explosive, and the Black Knights will need to account for his play-making talents.

vs. The Citadel

When: Oct. 10, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m. EST

How to Watch: CBSSN

Need to know: The Bulldogs will close-out their four-game fall schedule by meeting the Black Knights. The Citadel also faces USF, Clemson and Eastern Kentucky in 2020. Brandon Rainey was the second quarterback in program history to rush and pass for at least 10 touchdowns in a single season and named a FCS Player to Watch by Yahoo. Rainey helped them win three of their last four games running for more than 400 yards combined. You also may remember the Bulldogs took down Georgia Tech 27-24 in overtime last year — their first win over an ACC opponent, a reckoning for those Yellow Jackets who dared to ditch the triple-option.

at USTA

When: Oct. 17, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m. EST

Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX

How to Watch: CBSSN

Need to know: The Black Knights and Roadrunners are no strangers. Army posted a 31-13 road win against them just last year. This year, however, UTSA has a new coaching staff and their starting quarterback is still a mystery, according to 247Sports. A likely pick could be New Mexico state transfer Josh Adkins who threw for 2,588 yards, 14 touchdowns and 24 interceptions before leaving the FBS program.

vs. Mercer

When: Oct. 24, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m. EST

How to Watch: CBSSN

Need to know: 87 years ago — That’s the last night Army and Mercer played each other. After the Southern Conference canceled conference play for all of its fall sports, the Bears — like the Citadel — were allowed to schedule up to four games for 2020. New head coach Drew Cronic came to Mercer this year after two seasons with Lenoir-Rhyne University. There, he led the team from a 3-8 season to a 25-3 mark over two years. Quarterback Robert Riddle suffered a devastating injury last year against VMI, leaving redshirt juniors Kaelan Riley and Harrison Frost to take the reins. So the Bears have had a bit of a QB shuffle of their own.

vs. Air Force

When: Nov. 7, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m. EST

How to Watch: CBS

Need to know: This game might be the biggest surprise of the season. Unlike Army and Navy, most of Air Force football was stalled this fall as the Mountain West canceled all fall sports, leaving just two games for the Falcons on the docket. Service Academy fans will remember last year’s 13-17 meeting where Air Force was able to pull out a fourth-quarter touchdown and hold Army until the clock ran out. It’s unclear how the Falcons’ season will evolve, but they are returning nine starters from an offense that paved the way for an 11-2 campaign last year. As it stands, the Falcons have much of the next two months to focus on this game.

at Tulane

When: Nov. 14, 2020 (Time TBD)

Where: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA

How to Watch: TBD

Need to know: The Green Wave were the team to snap the Black Knights 15-game home winning streak in 2019. This season, Tulane is tabbed to finish sixth in the AAC, according to the conference’s preseason media poll. Under center, Justin McMillan is gone and Tulane has five quarterbacks currently listed on their 2020 roster. Our friends at Underdog Dynasty mentioned that Keon Howard — a transfer from Southern Mississippi — might be the obvious choice to take the reins. Moreover, the Green Wave have three other graduate transfers listed on their roster: Kevin Henry, Ajani Kerr and Kyle Meyers — all on defense and all coming from Power 5 teams. This could be a tough game for Army.

vs. Georgia Southern

When: Nov. 21, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m. EST

How to Watch: CBSSN

Need to know: Another first for the Black Knights, this opponent will see a familiar face as Jeff Monken coached at GSU from 2010 to 2013. The Eagles recently suspended practice due to positive COVID-19 tests, according to WTOC News. Returning at QB is Shai Werts, who suffered a right shoulder injury during GSU’s season opener against LSU last year, but returned shortly afterwards and went on to have a stellar season, finishing with All-Sun Belt honors after totaling more than 1,500 yards of offense and 14 touchdowns.

Last season, the Eagles play was a bit inconsistent. They nearly beat Minnesota, then lost to Louisiana Lafayette, won twice in overtime, and then beat a Top 25 Appalachian State team on the road. Their season ended with a loss to Liberty in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl. At the very least, both Werts and Army’s Christian Anderson average less than 10 yards per pass which could mean a more entertaining match-up for option-loving fans.

vs. Navy*

When: Dec. 12, 2020 @ 3:00 p.m. EST

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

How to Watch: CBS

Need to know: If nothing else in college football looks solidified, one thing seems certain — the mission continues, the Army-Navy one, specifically. Some of the AAE team have even argued how this historic match-up should be the one game to keep on he college football schedule if all else fails.

The Black Knights will face the Midshipmen without the famed Malcolm Perry at the helm. And Army will come into the game seeking revenge from last year’s blowout. Will that be enough to prevent Navy from winning back-to-back?