The Big One

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Army/Navy Football Marathon

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just wanted to throw it out there that CBS College Sports Network is showing a marathon of Army/Navy games today. Some of the games featured are the 2000, 2001, 2007 and 2008.

Also featured in the mix is an interview of Rich Ellerson and Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo.

Don't forget about Stephen Anderson's player diary, and check out Sal Interdonato's game prediction over on Inside Army Football.

Steelman gets a spotlight piece from CNNSI and another from ESPN.

Steelman watched this game from the stands last year. As the starting quarterback for the U.S. Military Academy Prep School, Steelman said he knew he’d get to experience this game as a member of the Army football team, but he didn’t think it would be so soon. Steelman has played in all 11 games this season, which he said would help his nerves against the Midshipmen. He leads the team in passing with 560 yards, three touchdowns and an interception and leads the team in rushing with 690 yards and five scores. Steelman accounts for 40 percent of both the Black Knights offense and scoring.

A good year for Steelman, but that last 40% figure will have to improve for this team to improve on 5 wins.

A look at the notable 1963 game. My uncle lettered for Army football in 1962 and graduated from USMA in 1963, so I always enjoy stories from that era.

Another round of game notes from GoArmySports.

And lastly, I'll post the online video stream tomorrow FWIW, but if you can't find this one on TV I don't know what to tell you.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Now it's serious.

I wanted to do a little statistical breakdown of the two teams, and I'll get to it after I touch on some of the stories regarding the game.

Phil Steele's Army/Navy forecast is up. A big tip of the hat to Phil Steele whose magazine has kept me fixated on college football through the long summers. Another great year for Phil and if you haven't visited his website yet, get there, check it out and bookmark it for the 2010 season.

Don't miss Stephen Anderson's continuing game week diary over at Sal Interdonato's Army blog. Sal is another guy who should be singled out for outstanding football coverage this year. He's done a great job all year and we're lucky to have him on the Army football beat.

Sal is on day three of his Army vs. Navy debate. Topic: Who has the coaching edge?

This article looks at some of Ellerson's Cal Poly recruits coaching against him with Navy.

“The day that the Army job came open, I knew Rich was going to get the job,” said DuPaix, who’d been gone from Cal Poly himself less than a year. “No one told me. It was just the right fit. It had his name written all over it.”

The article is pretty plain, but I love the attention is giving to the game.

Ellerson continued by saying the team has not needed to be motivated and they understand whose shoes they are standing in and whom they are representing.

As the senior class prepares for their last clash between the their arch rivals, the culture of the program has taken a giant step in the right direction because of the dedication of these 22 seniors.

Mike over at the Navy blog The Birddog is thinking about calling it quits. If that's true it's too bad, because his analysis of option football is unrivaled. I have no idea how he does what he does. In fact if I can promise one thing it's that my football analysis will never even come close to being as complete as that found on the Birddog.

I promised a statistical breakdown of my own, so here's what I've got:
(stats courtesy

Army top rushers
Trent Steelman1916903.6555
Patrick Mealy976256.4753
Kingsley Ehie1054454.2262
Jameson Carter532174.1312
Malcolm Brown261124.3110

Navy Top Rushers

Ricky Dobbs2529133.653
Vince Murray1598845.6526
Marcus Curry644426.9454
Alexander Teich703765.4420
Gee Gee Greene372246.1190
Kriss Proctor532234.240

I find this number to be interesting... both kickers have the same amount of points - but they were attained in different ways. Army kicker Alex Carlton got his 64 points making 13/13 extra points and booting 17 out of 21 field goals. The Navy kicker ended up 37/37 on extra points and booted 9 for 12 on field goals for... 64 points.

While Navy edges Army in passing yardage 867 yds to 784 yds, Alejandro Villanueva is by far the leading receiver on either team with 460 yards. Despite the yardage edge for Army, the Navy actually finished in the top 30 of passing efficiency (#29) - which speaks a little bit to Army's turning to the pass when they were trailing games big. Army is near the bottom of the passer efficiency list at #116.

Navy has the #41 rushing defense - 396 rushes for 1535 yds. (4.16 yards per)
Army is listed at #66 rush D - 417 rushes for 1636 yds. (3.92 yards per)

Maybe the most telling stat: Navy is tied for #2 in turnovers lost with 10.
Army (#27) is lucky to be in the top 50 as they have recovered a lot of their own fumbles this year. The turnover numbers on Saturday will be an enormous factor in this game.

Maybe the biggest disparity and one that WILL make or break Army on Saturday... 3rd down percentage.

Navy again ranks among the best in the NCAA on third down conversions converting on 47.65% of their 3rd downs - good enough for #16 in the country.
Army again ranks near the bottom of the list (#117) - converting only 29.94% of third downs.

It won't have to be a superhuman effort to Beat Navy, but the team will have to put those kind of stats behind them to find any success in the 110th Beat Navy Extravaganza.

Army/Navy News

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'll probably do a statistical comparison of the two teams a little later, but for now - more news.

A very good article about the way of life at West Point. The article deals little with actual football but it's a must-read, regardless.

Another cool article including some noteworthy history of the rivalry.

Seconds after Stichweh’s touchdown, television viewers watched him score again.

“This is not live,” presenter Lindsey Nelson screamed, “ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again.”

December 7th, 1963 – a day that may live in some infamy: instant replay was born. If Thierry Henry wants someone to blame, Verna is a good place to start.

An interesting note on Bill Wagner's Navy football blog: Rich Ellerson spent a year at the Naval Academy. Somehow I missed that fact, but it's really only notable this week.

Sal Interdonato's Great Debate Continues.

Which team's defense will do a better job of containing the other's option offense?

This one asks, "Can Army make history?"

In actuality, what Army is trying to do is less historical and more like bucking a couple of bad trends.

Another standard Army vs. Navy article here.

Army presser quotes are up, some very interesting tidbits there, another must-read.

...But Wait There's More

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

As I expected, there's more Army football press this week than there was for pretty much all other weeks combined

LB Steve Anderson is authoring a player's diary over at Sal Interdonato's Army blog.

It's a really cool look into Army's preparation this week for Navy, make sure to go over there and check it out.

Interdonato takes the heat directly to the Navy beat writer with a weeklong debate style Q&A.

I thought it was interesting to see the official U.S. Army website post the Army/Navy game notes. Not USMA, not Army sports... the U.S. military's homepage. It's the same as the USMA athletic department's notes, but I'll use the .mil link, since that's pretty unique.

As it works out, I'm sitting here right now watching Army's 1971 season highlights on CBS College sports network.

At noon on Tuesday, highlights from the 1964 season will air, followed by the 1968 season at 12:45 p.m. and the 1971 season at 1:30 p.m. Heisman Tales, a 15-minute broadcast featuring Army’s 1958 winner Pete Dawkins, is scheduled to run at 2:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, CBS College Sports will re-air Army’s Oct. 10 16-13 overtime win against Vanderbilt at 3 p.m. and then show One2One at 11 p.m.

Thursday’s programming begins with an encore showing of One2One at 5 a.m., followed by the Inside Academy Football Special at 5:30 and 11 a.m. At noon, the 1996 Army-Navy game will be replayed, followed by the 1998 game at 3 p.m. and the 1999 contest at 6 p.m. One2One at 9 p.m. and Inside Academy Football at 9:30 wraps up the programming.

Friday’s schedule begins at 6 a.m. with the 2000 Army vs. Navy game, followed by the 1999 contest at 9 a.m., a replay of the 2000 game at noon, the 2001 matchup at 3 p.m. and the 2007 game at 6 p.m. One2One will air at 8:30 p.m. with the 2008 game at 9 p.m.

Finally, individual accolades are nice, but there is still at least one more game to be played. I can't find a link to the cite - so Phil Steele's postseason All-Independent selections will have to wait to hear their names called here.

2009 College Bowl Edition

Monday, December 7, 2009

The bowls are all in place except for Army's Eagle Bank Bowl. It's win-and-in for the Cadets with a bowl bid riding on a win against Navy.

To me, the 2009 BCS National Championship is about as pointless and unfair as even the BCS can get. Why should Alabama even have to play #2 Texas since they just came out of a #1 vs #2 matchup in the SEC title game? I was under the impression that there was no playoff in FBS football. Alabama thrashed #1 while Texas luckily and I mean luckily escaped Arlington with a last second win vs. Nebraska... and Alabama now has to play #2 again? Champion teams acquire merit throughout the course of their seasons and not during the postseason - since a fair FBS postseason ceases to exist. When the season ends with #1 vs #2 isn't it kind of pointless to play a special national championship bowl beyond that?

The Gator Bowl is intent on running its reputation into the ground, first with their intended snub of Big East bowl qualifiers in favor of Notre Dame - (6-6 and ineligible for Gator Bowl selection) then inciting the ire of the ACC by selecting 6-6 Florida State above teams with more wins. Both Florida State and Notre Dame ran their coaches out of town for those same .500 seasons - but if those teams were good enough for the Gator Bowl - I think it's time to rethink the prestige of the Gator. The combined 12 wins of the two teams that the Gator Bowl really wanted- would barely qualify a team to play on New Years' day:

Notre Dame's wins:

Michigan State
Boston College
Washington State

Florida State's wins:

Jacksonvile State
North Carolina
NC State
Wake Forest

But that's what it is, FSU vs. West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.
My condolences go to West Virginia as the afterthought Big East selection and to the Big Ten and SEC as the next in line to inherit this drama-queen of a bowl game. AP #15 Miami, an ACC team that was bumped due to the Florida State selection will help to immediately raise the profile of the Champs Sports Bowl as they will face #25 Wisconsin in one of only three non BCS meetings of ranked teams.

Those other non BCS top 25 matchups are:

#18 Oregon State vs. #14 Brigham Young - Las Vegas Bowl

#20 Arizona vs. #22 Nebraska - Holiday Bowl

Other notable bowl snubs:

North Carolina was also overlooked by the Gator Bowl and will play in Charlotte's bowl game for the 3rd time in 6 years, where they will meet 9-3 Pitt.

Missouri (8-4), was passed on by the Insight Bowl in favor of Iowa State (6-6) and will play 6-6 Minnesota in the Texas Bowl which is played on the same day as the Insight and has the added bonus of actually being shown on TV. If I'm Missouri, I'm grateful for that snub.

Boise State and TCU were both overlooked for the BCS national championship game in favor of more deserving Texas and Alabama teams, but their Fiesta Bowl matchup should give one team's fan base a voice to claim national championship recognition. It's too bad for those teams that 3 other squads ran the table, but neither of these two teams are the best in FBS, anyway. Boise vs. TCU in the Fiesta is as close as a non-BCS conference team will come to playing for the BCS national title, and that will stir the debate.

BSU President Bob Kustra has openly criticized the BCS system, which can deny teams in the five conferences that do not have automatic bids the opportunity to compete even after undefeated seasons.

In October, he expressed support for a push by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch for a Justice Department inquiry into the BCS.

Kustra has endorsed a playoff system instead.

I don't have much advice for the BSU president except: this is D1-A. If Boise wants to play in a playoff that bad they can go down to the FCS and enjoy playoff football almost every year.

Here's a list of teams that were eligible but not selected for any bowl:
6-6 teams
Louisiana Monroe
Louisiana Lafayette
Kansas State


Notre Dame (6-6) thumbed their nose at these hopeful teams (and at me) by refusing any bowl bids. Good for them, whatever - those missed bowl practices are reps you can't get back and that could play a role next year considering the coaching change and the likely departure of Jimmy Clausen.
(ESPN Insider subs.)

UCLA is still waiting
for the outcome of the Army/Navy Game to see if they might be selected to face Temple in the Eagle Bank Bowl.

If Army makes it through, the Eagle Bank Bowl vs Temple might be the least sexy matchup of the bowl season. Temple won the regular season game against Army 27-13 in front of 14,275 fans. Say what you will about a second Army/Temple matchup - I'm sure the Army players would love another shot to get back the one that got away.


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