A 4-1 Army team taking on a 2-3 Wisconsin team? Sounds crazy, right? Well, there’s a little more than meets the eye regarding those records. And even though the Badgers aren’t ranked, this will be as big of a test as any ranked opponent the Black Knights have played under Jeff Monken.
Wisconsin’s three losses have come against #19 Penn State, #12 Notre Dame, and most recently #14 Michigan. They’re coming off a 24-0 rout against Illinois, and will benefit from a rowdy home crowd trying to get back to .500 this Saturday. This will be an interesting match-up, most deserving of its primetime slot.
It’s unclear whether Christian Anderson will start for Army at QB, given his injury three weeks ago. Monken indicated that Anderson did see reps in practice, but it’s quite possible that the Black Knights may start Tyhier Tyler under center.
Tyler ran the Army offense in their loss to Ball State two weeks ago, and despite trailing 21-0 early in the game, he led two commanding touchdown drives to put the Black Knights in a position to come back in the second half. In any case, the Army offense leads the nation in time of possession with just over 40 minutes per game, and boasts the #2 rushing offense in the country.
On the other hand, Wisconsin likes to run the ball as well, and execute rather well. Last week against Illinois they posted a season-high 391 yards on the ground behind the efforts of RBs Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen. The Badgers rank fourth in time of possession at around 35 minutes.
One notable point on Wisconsin’s offense is that they turn the ball over A LOT - like 14 times in five games. Only one other FBS team in the country has more turnovers.
Both Army and Wisconsin have potent defenses, especially against the run. The Badgers lead the nation in rushing defense, allowing opponents to just 41.4 yards per game and 1.66 yards per carry. The Black Knights are close at third, holding opposing ground attacks to 54 yards and 2.41 yards, respectively.
Turnover-wise, the Army defense has an advantage again. The Black Knights have registered four interceptions and one fumble recovery. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has just two interceptions and two forced fumbles (one recovered). Army also still has the nation’s sack leader in Andre Carter (6).
Things to Consider
- Strength vs Strength - Army’s rushing attack versus Wisconsin’s run defense. I remember reading somewhere that Vince Lombardi used to say that he wouldn’t exploit another team’s weaknesses. He’d beat away at their strengths until they became a weakness. This game will reveal which is truly stronger, Army’s offense or Wisconsin’s defense.
- Strength vs Weakness - In many ways, Army’s defense might be a greater strength than its offense. But the Badger’s offense could be its weakest point given their turnover margin and the Black Knight’s tendency to force turnovers (especially in big games).
- Will Army’s special teams be ready to go? This could really be the true difference-maker (as it was against Ball State).
I’ve always had faith in Army under Jeff Monken against big-time opponents, and they’ve come so close in the previous few seasons, falling to Oklahoma (2018) and Michigan (2019) in overtime. This could very well be the year - it should be an exciting game either way.
How to Watch
Kickoff: 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, October 16th
Watch: BTN (Big Ten Network)
Where: Camp Randall Stadium – Madison, WI
Spread: As of this writing, FanDuel has Wisconsin favored at -13.5, with the over-under at 37.5.