2018 Armed Forces Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick
Hats off to our brave men and women.
The 2018 Armed Forces Bowl is all about saluting our brave men and women in uniform. Some future members of our armed forces will be participating in this contest.
One sideline is home to the Houston Cougars, one of the stronger teams to come out of the American Athletic Conference this season. On the other, it’s the Army Black Knights, an independent, having one of their best stretches in program history. For so long, Army was terrible. Zero and one-loss seasons were not out of the question, leading people to knock on the service academies as having a weak product. No, they are not football factories, but they do produce some of the finest the United States has to offer.
Besides, Navy had many good years in recent seasons, only recently falling down, while Air Force has shown itself every now and then. Army has picked up the mantle, seeking their first 11-win season. Will they get it against a tough Houston squad?
2018 Armed Forces Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info
|Saturday, December 22, 2018, 3:30pm ET (12:30pm PT)|
|Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas|
|Broadcast on ESPN|
|$900,000 payout (Link: College Football Poll)|
|Army is a 3.5-point favorite|
2018 Armed Forces Bowl: Houston Cougars
|8-4 (5-3 American); co-champions of American West Division|
|Best Win: South Florida|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 4th, Total Offense 6th, Rushing Offense 19th, 3rd Downs T-14th, Time of Possession 130th, Turnover Margin T-29th, Sacks Allowed T-32nd, Red Zone T-26th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 107th, Total Defense 125th, Rushing Defense 98th, Opponent 3rd Downs 111th, Sacks Per Game T-82nd, TFL Per Game T-34th, Interceptions T-22nd, Opponent Red Zone 125th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking T-65th, Punts 57th|
2018 Armed Forces Bowl: Army Black Knights
|10-2; FBS independent|
|Consecutive 10-win seasons for first time in program history|
|Best Win: Buffalo|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 60th, Total Offense 90th, Rushing Offense 2nd, 3rd Downs 1st, Time of Possession 1st, Turnover Margin T-13th, Sacks Allowed 1st, Red Zone T-37th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense T-13th, Total Defense 9th, Rushing Defense 12th, Opponent 3rd Downs 3rd, Sacks Per Game T-115th, TFL Per Game T-114th, Interceptions T-117th, Opponent Red Zone T-23rd|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking T-84th, Punts 123rd|
2018 Armed Forces Bowl: Head-to-Head
This contest will be the eighth meeting between Houston and Army.
Houston leads the all-time series at present, 5-2. Their last meeting came in 2004 when Art Briles coached the Cougars, in a 35-21 Houston win. Each of the prior seven games has happened since 1998. Houston won the three most recent games. (Link: Winsipedia)
2018 Armed Forces Bowl: Pick
Apropos of nothing, it’s a shame this bowl is not at Army’s home field, Michie Stadium, one of the most scenic stadia in the country in which to watch a college football game.
This is a hell of a good Army team. We will not say the best ever, because they did win national championships back in the day. However, this is the best stretch we’ve seen from Army in decades, and it comes with having won 28 games over their last three seasons, with one result pending. The triple option has never been more alive, with Army crushing their opponents with the run. Houston needs to be ready for it, and taking a run defense barely in the top 100 into this game is a cause for concern.
Army does not get aggressive going after the football, and it shows with their slim stats on interceptions (5) and fumbles recovered (11). Further, their pass rush is not a factor, which will allow Houston to sling it all over the field with no pressure.
What is interesting is that this bowl matches up the FBS team that has the ball the longest with the one that has it the least. Houston needs to hit some big plays to keep Army off the field, because otherwise, the Black Knights will chew up clock like nobody’s business. The Cougars are one of the nation’s leading “big play offenses,” which is why they have a realistic chance of winning. They might not need a whole lot of time to score.
Houston has a better offense, but Army has a better defense. This one is interesting because there are things both teams do well, and it’s not always going to be strength vs. strength out on the field. It’s a matter of which strengths are, well, stronger.