Army football has made one bowl game since 1996 and the experts aren't expecting the Black Knights to change that this season.
However, in order for second year head coach Jeff Monken to build off of last season's 4-8 campaign, he'll have to pick up one or two more wins to show the upper brass that things are getting better at West Point.
With that said, Army has a path to five wins this season. It just needs to be realized.
I've broken up Army's schedule into three sections. Winnable games, games Army has a chance to pull off an upset, and games the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against the Cadets.
Winnable: 9/4 vs. Fordham, 9/12 at UCONN, 9/26 at Eastern Michigan, 10/17 vs. Bucknell, 11/14 vs. Tulane
Army's two FCS games should be wins. Should. Remember, Army got dominated by Yale last season. Other than those games, Army beat UCONN last season and the Huskies won't be much better this season.
Coming off three straight two-win seasons, Eastern Michigan is the only team ranked below Army on the Cadets' schedule. If the Black Knights are going to beat any FBS teams this season, the Eagles are the lowest hanging fruit.
While the Tulane University Green Wave never travel well as they've gone 12-47 on the road in the last decade. The Black Knights needs to take advantage of that.
Army needs to win all of these games. Failure to do so will put the Black Knights behind the eight ball in their efforts to qualify for a bowl.
So you're saying there's a chance: 9/19 vs. Wake Forest, 10/24 at Rice, 11/7 at Air Force, 12/12 vs. Navy
A home game against Wake Forest might be Army's best shot to win a bubble game. The Demon Deacons eeked out a 24-21 home victory over the Cadets last season. Wake Forest returns 13 starters, but they'll still be one of the youngest teams in college football. That youth is something Army can exploit with the triple option as it takes a good deal of discipline to properly shut down.
Going into Houston to play Rice will be a daunting task for Army, not a surefire loss but probably the most difficult of the four games they have a shot at. The Owls have a good chunk of new starters on defense giving the Cadets something to work with. However, the Rice offense will definitely put up a lot of points on Army with fifth-year starting quarterback Driphus Jackson and the one-two punch of Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard at running back.
As for the last two games, never count out anyone in the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy round robin. When Air Force, Army, and Navy meet you throw out the records and see how the game goes. Which is why I'm saying no matter how bad it looks for Army, they also have a shot to beat Air Force and/or Navy.
Army's goal should be to win one of these four games. Due to the competitive nature of these teams and Army's stature, winning more than one is asking too much.
Put these in the loss column: 10/3 at Penn State, 10/10 vs. Duke, 11/21 vs. Rutgers
These games Army has practically zero chance of winning. While Duke and Rutgers aren't expected to do great things this season, they've faced the triple option teams over the past few seasons and have shut down the offense almost expertly. Particularly against Navy in 2013 (Duke) and 2014 (Rutgers).
The trip up to Happy Valley will be the most difficult challenge for Army this season. The Nittany Lions are expected to be in the race for the Big Ten Eastern Division crown and return Christian Hackenberg at quarterback and a defensive line that'll give the Army offensive line fits.
If Army can win all their winnable games and one of the bubble games, they'll have six victories which will earn them a spot at the Poinsettia Bowl against a Mountain West school on Dec. 23 at 4 p.m.
The Black Knights have a long way to go before any bowl dreams come to fruition. However, the key to such a season will be a quick start.
With three of their winnable games and their best shot at winning a bubble game in the first month of the season, it's imperative that Army go 4-0 to start the 2015 campaign.
After that, Army will be hard pressed to get any momentum going in October with Duke and road games against PSU and Rice in that month.
The final four games have Army taking on their service academy rivals and Rutgers so in that eight-game time-frame from October to December Army has two winnable games.
Going 4-0 to start the season will allow Army a path to a bowl without having to put the Black Knights into a corner and forcing them to win tough games against Air Force and Navy.
Winning those Commander-in-Chief Trophy games remain the priority for Army. However, if they want to achieve their next objective of reaching a bowl, they'll need to do something they haven't done since 2010: get off to a fast start.
And with a sophomore quarterback, Josh Jenkins injured, and new starters at slotback and fullback, that'll be quite a feat.
I think Army has a shot to win all their winnable games, but they may be too green to pull off the necessary upset to get them into a bowl. Starting off against a FCS team should help the confidence of the offense, especially Ahmad Bradshaw. But asking this team to beat a Wake Forest, Rice, or fellow academy may be too much to ask for in such a short time.
Wins over Fordham, UCONN, EMU, Bucknell, Tulane.
Losses to Wake, PSU, Duke, Rice, Air Force, Rutgers, Navy