Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Army Black Knights (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Friday, October 23, 2009, Michie Stadium, West Point, N.Y. TV: ESPN2
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Rutgers -10/Army +10
After losing its first game of the season to Cincinnati, Rutgers won four games in a row over weak opponents before nearly upsetting Pittsburgh at home last Friday. Now, the Scarlet Knights face another fairly weak non-conference opponent when they play at Army on Friday night.
Rutgers’ four wins came over Howard, Florida International, Maryland and Texas Southern. The blowout wins over Howard and Texas Southern are certainly nothing to brag about. The Scarlet Knights barely got by FIU, 23-15, and won 34-13 at Maryland, an ACC team that has struggled all season. Then, the Scarlet Knights hosted Pitt and had a chance to pull off the upset. After trailing 17-10 at the half, they gave up a 58-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter to Pitt running back Dion Lewis. But Rutgers freshman quarterback Tom Savage threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Tim Brown to pull the Scarlet Knights within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. But it was too little too late, as Pitt held on for the victory. The difference in the game was Lewis, who ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Rutgers uses a run-first offense, led by Joe Martinek, who has 434 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Jourdan Brooks has 236 rushing yards and four touchdowns, and De’Antwan Williams checks in with 221 yards and a touchdown. Savage, a true freshman, has played in five of the six games and has thrown for 941 yards, five touchdowns and an interception. He is still very young and inexperienced, so it’s important for Rutgers to establish a strong running attack for Savage to be effective. Brown is Savage’s main target. He has 28 receptions for 548 yards and three touchdowns. Mohamed Sanu has 26 catches for 245 yards.
Army has a 3-4 record, but has had a chance to win almost every game this season. The Black Knights have wins over Eastern Michigan, Ball State and Vanderbilt, and losses to Duke, Iowa State, Tulane and Temple. They’re coming off a 27-13 loss to Temple in which the game was tied at 13 in the second half. In every game this season, the Black Knights have scored between 10 and 27 points, and have given up between 13 and 35 points.
Army runs a triple-option offense, where the quarterback lines up in the backfield with two running backs and a fullback, and any of those four players could get the carry on any given play. It’s a very difficult offense to stop, but it’s pretty much all running plays. Army has only attempted 92 passes this season, but has run the ball 369 times. Trent Steelman is the Army quarterback. He has 407 rushing yards and 266 passing yards. The three ball carriers alongside Steelman in the backfield are Patrick Mealy, Kingsley Ehie and Jameson Carter. The three of them have combined for 870 rushing yards this season.
Army is 1-5 ATS in its last five home games and 4-9 SU in its last 13 home games. The total has gone under in eight of Army’s last nine home games, and has gone under in four of Army’s last five games overall. Three of Rutgers’ four games with totals have gone under this season. The Scarlet Knights are 5-0 ATS in their last five road games and 5-0 ATS in their last five games against Army. Rutgers won this matchup 30-3 last season.
Ryno’s Pick: Rutgers has handled all of its non-conference opponents rather easily this season, with the exception of the close win over Florida International. But the Scarlet Knights have played well in their last three games, with blowout wins over Maryland and Texas Southern and a close loss to Pitt. However, Army isn’t a bad team. The Black Knights have a win over Vanderbilt and have been fairly competitive in every game this season. Rutgers won easily over Army last season, but the Scarlet Knights are younger and less talented than they were last season. Still, Rutgers should be able to win this game but Army could keep it within 10 points. The best bet is to take the under. Both of these teams like to run the ball a lot and control the clock. Both teams have leaned strong towards the under this season, and eight of Army’s last nine home games have gone under. Take the under when it comes out.