Three major service academy games this weekend, two of which are nationally televised. Watch for good performances by Army and Navy as they come off wins and Air Force tries to rebound.
Friday October 12, 8 p.m. EST
Kelly/Shorts Stadium; Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Nationally Televised by ESPN2
Navy looks to build off its win at Air Force last week by traveling for the first time to Central Michigan. After losses to Notre Dame, Penn State, and San Jose State, the win in the Commander-In-Chief competition must have been very satisfying to Coach Ken Niumatalolo's team.
The next couple of games could position the Midshipman for a run at another postseason bowl.
Navy is running the ball well, averaging 232 yards per game ranked 15th in NCAA Div I. They can all compete passing the ball generating 116 yards per game. Mids are not scoring very often averaging just 17 per game, including the 41 they scored against VMI. Defense is giving up 389 yards per game but just 24 points per game.
The Mids QB Trey Miller has completed 34 of 58 passes for 376 yards while leading the team in rushing with 291 yards. Like with Army, nine fumbles lost have hurt Navy. On defense, Brye French leads with 36 tackles.
Central Michigan by comparison is a passing team generating 257 yards per game in the air and 136 yards per game on the ground. CMU is struggling on defense giving up 457 yards and nearly 41 points per game.
The Chippewas QB is Sr. Ryan Radcliff who has completed 105 of 179 passes for 1,286 yards and nine TDs
The top running back is Jr. Zurlon Tipton who averages 6.2 yards per carry and has scored six TDs. On defense the top tackler is So. Justin Cherocci with 47 stops made.
Watch for a Navy win coming off of last week.
Kent State (4-1) at Army (1-4)
Saturday October 13, 12:05 p.m. ET
Michie Stadium, West Point, NY
Televised Nationally by CBS Sports Network
Army pulled off its first win of the season last Saturday 34-31 against Boston College delighting the Corp of Cadets and the West Point faithful.
Coach Rich Elelrson's squad won with a defensive stand in the last two minutes which forced a punt, enabling a 29 yard run by QB Trent Steelman to score the winning TD against the Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.
Kent State has been revitalized by second-year coach Darrell Hazell, so this is not the team which Army defeated two years ago en-route to qualifying for the Armed Forces Bowl. Hazell was once an Army assistant coach from 1997-98.
The Golden Flashes have wins over Towson, Buffalo, Ball State, and last week at Eastern Michigan by a 41-14 margin. Their only loss was at Kentucky in week two.
The Flashes have a balanced offense averaging 201 yards per game on the ground and passing for another 200 per. They average nearly 33 points per game.
Their best running back is Traylon Durham, averaging 92 yards per game.
The QB is Sr. Spencer Keith, Kent State's career leader in completions with 621 yards and second in passing yards.
Dri Archer leads the NCAA in all purpose yards per game at 230.6. Archer was named to the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll after his three-touchdown outing at Eastern Michigan.
On defense, Kent State is giving up 378 yards per game, 250 of that from the passing game. They have made seven interceptions and have a positive turnover margin of 1.8 per game, so Army better hold onto the ball. Linebacker Luke Batton leads the defense with 41 tackles.
Army and their alumni serving around the wrold were ecstatic with the 516 yard rushing, clutch defensive performance last Saturday against BC.
Noteable was the play of defense producing a vital "three and out" forcing the Eagles to punt from their own end zone and giving the offense another chance to score and win the game which they did on Trent Steelman's third TD of the day.
The Black Knights are the number one rushing team in the country averaging 397 yards per game and have produced 15 TDs on the ground.
Slot-back Raymond Maples is 5th in the NCAA in rushing averaging 134 yards per game. Fullback Larry Dixon is often seen dragging defenders as he accumulates yardage is averaging 92 yards per game.
On defense, Army depends on its linebackers to make the plays. Sr. Nate Combs dives into the holes to put pressure on opposing backs has eight tackles for loss on the season. So. Geoffrey Bacon leads the team with 48 tackles so far in 2012. The Army secondary is young so could be tested by the Kent State passing game.
Watch for Army's momentum and confidence coming off the BC win to carry them through Saturday as they begin to think again about qualifying for a bowl game.
Saturday October 13, 5 p.m. MT
War Memorial Stadium; Laramie, Wyoming
Televised by Root Sports
The Air Force Academy must be reeling after its overtime home loss to Navy last week. That takes away their chance to win out right the Commander-In-Chief trophy. Win what must be a bad taste in their mouth, they travel north to Mountain West rival Wyoming that is an opportunity to put their season back on track.
The Falcons have wins over Idaho State and Colorado State, but have lost at Michigan, UNLV, and last week the grudge match with Navy. Lats season Wyoming marched into Falcon Stadium and won 25-17 so another reason for Air Force to look for pay back.
AFA is scoring a lot of points 34.4 per game, 34th best in the NCAA. They are second to only Army in running the ball ranked second in the NCAA averaging 389 yards per game.
Cody Getz leads the NCAA with 177 yards per game. QB Connor Dietz has 101 yards passing per game average. The Falcon's offensive line leads the NCAA in not giving up a sack on the season.
On defense, Austin Niklas is averaging nearly ten tackles a game.
Wyoming will be celebrating their 88th Homecoming festivities in Laramie Saturday. The Cowboys have lost at Texas, to Toledo, and a close loss to Cal Poly by two, and last week to Nevada in overtime. Their lone win came at Idaho Sept. 22 in overtime.
Coach Dave Christensen's team lost 12 senors from last year.
They have a QB to watch in sophomore Brett Smith who is ranked seventh in the NCAA Pass Efficiency at 167, a list topped by Geno Smith of West Virginia at 202 yards.
Wyoming's Smith is averaging 295 yards passing per game, 15th best in the NCAA. A favorite passing target for long throws is Chris McNeill who had eight catches for an average of 27. 4 yards gained against Idaho. Brett Smith is also the leading runner with 162 yards per game. Six fumbles lost and six interceptions must be a frustration point.
On defense, Wyoming is giving up a lot of yards, 477 per game and points, 33.4, so like Army they need to outscore opponents to win.
Watch for Air Force to spoil Homecoming day for the Cowboys.
Ken Kraetzer covers Army football for WVOX in New Rochelle, NY and Sons of the American legion Radio Twitter: SAL50NYRadio