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Trench Warfare: The Key to Beating Stanford

After holding on to beat a surging Buffalo team, the Black Knights travel to the Farm, to take on a Stanford team whose playoff hopes took a big hit after dropping a heart-breaker to the Men of Troy. Does Army poses the strength up front to hand Stanford their second straight loss and all-but ensure the Cardinal are left out of the inaugural playoffs?

Army and Stanford will finish up their home-and-home series this Saturday in Stanford, CA.
Army and Stanford will finish up their home-and-home series this Saturday in Stanford, CA.
Ron Antonelli

Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA

When: 5:00 PM EDT

TV: PAC-12 Network

Vegas Odds: Army +28.5 Over/Under 53 points

This Saturday, the Stanford Cardinal will host Army in a game that will be a test for both teams. For Stanford, they will try to rebound after falling to USC in back-to-back years. They gained over 400 yards of offense and held USC to under 300, but the two turnovers Stanford committed were all USC needed to secure the 13-10 win. Army, after nearly squandering a 30 point lead to Buffalo, will look to play spoiler to Stanford after playing a close game last year and coming up short by 14 points.

Stanford hopes that Sr. QB Kevin Hogan will come out firing after starting out the season with decent performances against UC Davis and USC. Hogan was responsible for both turnovers against USC in the crucial final minutes of the game, and did not take over the game like you would expect from a team captain. In order for Hogan to succeed, Stanford will need to establish a strong run game on the legs of Sr duo-backs Remound Wright and Kelsey Young. Stanford will look to exploit their size up front to impose their will running the ball and set up the play action pass.

Army, as you can guess, will run the ball. A lot. But last week against Buffalo QB Angel Santiago showed he has the ability to roll out and hit receivers when needed. Head Coach Jeff Monken will surely have fixed the team's penalty problem and preach ball security as Santiago was also responsible for both of Army's fumbles against Buffalo. Army escaped Buffalo rather unharmed: only major injury happened to LG Steve Shumaker early in the game, however it was not serious enough to keep him out of the game. Despite a good passing game from Santiago, Army will lean heavily on the run game in an attempt to tire out Stanford's defense.

The biggest key to this game, is what mentality Stanford will come out of the tunnel with. After losing to a rival team and their PAC-12 title hopes dwindling, will Stanford come out flat? Will they overlook Army in anticipation for their off week before their trip to Washington? Also, which Army team will show up? The first 3 quarters of the last game, Army was a team that looked unstoppable as they marched up and down the field.  Will that team or the team that almost fell apart in the last 10 minutes of the game appear? While Army is a 28.5 point underdog, don't be surprised if this game comes down to a final drive or two for Stanford.

Match Up to Watch: The Trenches

While Stanford has become a recent powerhouse for NFL linemen, with 3 offensive linemen, 2 defensive, and 6 tight ends in the league right now, they will be encountering an Army team that has added some serious poundage since last season. In 2013, Army's offensive line averaged 254 pounds and their defensive line averaged 246 pounds. During the off season, the sophomore through senior linemen added over 1400 pounds of muscle. Now, the averages for the offensive line are 285 pounds and the defensive line are 272 pounds. This extra weight will prove crucial if Army wants to keep Stanford from pushing them up and down the field.

Prediction: Stanford 35, Army 27