Army Black Knights vs. SMU Mustangs Armed Forces Bowl Preview and Pick

Army Black Knights
(6-6, 5-7 ATS)

SMU Mustangs
(7-6, 6-6-1 ATS)


Two of the best feel good teams in the bowl season this year lock horns in the Armed Forces Bowl two days before New Years, as the Army Black Knights take on the SMU Mustangs.

The Black Knights are playing in a bowl game for the first time since 1996, and they really did a nice job this year making sure that they are playing in the second season. Army didn’t beat a single bowl eligible team this year, but there isn’t a Cadet out there that could care less. This was clearly the best Army team in years thanks to an offense that averaged 258.0 yards per game on the ground. QB Trent Steelman was one of six players that had at least 200 yards on the ground this year. He had 694 yards and 11 TDs on the campaign. RB Jared Hassin had 173 carries for 931 yards and nine scores, and he can become a very rare 1,000 yard back in this system for the Black Knights with a respectable game against the Mustangs. Defensively, there were definitely some struggles. Army allowed 25.2 points per game this year, and that number ballooned up to 34.6 points per game against bowl eligible teams. Allowing 322.8 yards per game was good enough to rank No. 23 in the country, but that number can be deceiving considering the fact that the offense made for a very quick game on a regular basis.

SMU was a disaster just a few years ago, and for Head Coach June Jones, taking his team to a bowl game is a tremendous accomplishment, especially knowing that the Mustangs were just one win away from winning Conference USA. The last sight that the college football betting fans had of this offense wasn’t a good one, a seven point outing against the UCF Knights. Still, this is a team that averaged 416.2 yards per game, and SMU is really, really close to being a dominating squad. QB Kyle Padron threw for 3,526 yards and 29 TDs in his second season in charge of this offense, and he had two great receivers with WR Aldrick Robinson and WR Cole Beasley, both of which had at least 1,000 yards on the season. RB Zach Line also had 1,391 yards on the ground and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Save Robinson, the rest of these cogs are coming back next year, and this is going to be a huge game to help the Mustangs kick off 2011 on the right foot.

The bottom line here is that these two teams just don’t belong on the same field together. The Mustangs are on the verge of being fantastic, while Army is just content to be a .500 team in spite of the fact that they didn’t beat a single bowl team this year. The Black Knights are overmatched, and they should lose this one by double digits to lose against the Armed Forces Bowl odds.

Armed Forces Bowl Free Pick: SMU Mustangs -7.5

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