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The Army Black Knights (3-6) will travel to Bowling Green, KY on Saturday to face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (4-5, 2-4 C-USA).

Linebackers Dejon Brown (17) and Daqual Randall (9) praying prior to WKU's game against UTEP. (November 8, 2014)
Linebackers Dejon Brown (17) and Daqual Randall (9) praying prior to WKU's game against UTEP. (November 8, 2014)
Brad Thomas

Keys to the Game

WKU (by Andrew Thomas)

Here we are. 9 games into the season, and WKU's fate is in its own hands. If they somehow beat Army, UTSA, and maybe even Marshall they could finish 7-5, which will likely place them in a bowl game. First, however, they must defeat the Army Black Knights. Army is coming off an impressive 35-21 win over Connecticut, while Western Kentucky is hoping to build upon its comeback win over UTEP a week ago.

1.) Stop the Run! Army, like most service academies, relies heavily upon its running game offensively that is currently averaging 298.3 yards per game (6th in FBS). Western Kentucky's defense has struggled mightily this year, giving up nearly 42 points per contest. However, the Hilltoppers showed up when it mattered last week as they pitched a fourth quarter shutout of UTEP in Western Kentucky's comeback win a week ago. Although they did not give up many points, WKU defensive coordinator Nick Holt's defense gave up 236 yards on the ground against the Miners. There is good news, though: Nick Holt has had some success stopping the option offense in his tenure at Western Kentucky:

  • vs. Navy (2013): WKU 36 Navy 27 -- 416 rushing yards allowed, 2 turnovers forced
  • vs. Army (2013): WKU 21 Army 17 -- 277 rushing yards allowed, 2 turnovers forced

I don't expect Western Kentucky to pitch a shutout or anything against Army, and there really isn't much reason to expect a great performance defensively (see above), but I think the defense can get the job done with some stops and big plays.

2.) Continued Quarterback Improvement - Western Kentucky senior quarterback Brandon Doughty hasn't faced pressure all year with the exception of the Louisiana Tech loss two weeks ago in which he threw a season-high four interceptions. Many of his interceptions were thrown off his back foot to the likes of Jared Dangerfield and Taywan Taylor, but ended up in the hands of Bulldog defenders. It was good to see WKU head coach Jeff Brohm adjust to his quarterback's needs and implement more quick reads and screens for his senior quarterback last week against UTEP, in which he threw no interceptions and three touchdowns. Doughty, with the hit-or-miss presence of running backs Anthony "Ace" Wales and Leon Allen, is undoubtedly the leader of the team; Brohm will need him to shine once more in order to defeat the Black Knights defense that is giving up nearly 40 points per game on the road this season.

3.) Special Teams - Western Kentucky has given up a kick return for a touchdown in each of its last three games, and Jeff Brohm knows his team can't afford to give up any points to an already explosive Army offense. The kicking team resorted to squib kicks in the second half last week in order to avoid these big returns, and that may continue to be Brohm's only option.

Prediction: Western Kentucky shouldn't have too many issues stopping Army this week, but I won't hold my breath. I'd be shocked if Army stops Brandon Doughty and the Western Kentucky offense from scoring at least forty points, and I just don't think this year's Army offense is explosive enough to keep up. WKU runs away with this one, 59-24.

Army (by Chris Thomas)

This game pits the 2nd best passing attack in the country against the 6th best rushing attack. Army struggles throwing the ball while Western Kentucky has little use for their run game. Teams that can throw the ball have dominated Army, which has been just about everyone. Army has very little, if any, pass rush, which will open the field up for WKU. Brandon Doughty will have plenty of time to read the defense and distribute the ball. Army's defense can create turnovers and has a talented secondary, but that talent is young and susceptible to wearing out by the 4th quarter. If the game is close after the 3rd, expect WKU to start pulling ahead unless Army can convert 3rd downs and extend offensive drives.

1.) Army needs to establish the run early. If they can dominate the time of possession and keep the Hilltopper offense on the sideline, they can win the game.

2.) Limit turnovers. Going against an explosive offense like this, Army cannot afford to end drives without points or give WKU short fields to score on.

3.) Stay competitive and aggressive. If Army falls behind early, the game is over. Angel Santiago has shown some promise passing the ball, but only when the defense is expecting run. If WKU can make Army abandon the run to try and keep up in a shoot out, then Army is in trouble.

4.) Play smart assignment defense. Army will be the more disciplined team (for obvious reasons) and will need to stay honest in the passing game. Josh Jenkins and Chris Carnegie have the tendency to jump routes for interceptions, so the safeties need to watch for any double moves and prevent big passing plays.

Prediction: WKU 56, Army 17

Game Information

  • L.T. Smith Stadium - Bowling Green, KY
  • High of 45° / Low of 33° / Precip 0%
  • Time: (11/15/14) 12:00PM ET
  • TV: CBSSN (Check your local listings)