The Bucknell Bison (3-2, 0-1) will take a short road trip as they face the Army Black Knights (1-5) in non-conference action as a FCS school travels to face a FBS opponent Saturday afternoon. This will be the first matchup between the two schools in history.
Bucknell had a two game win streak snapped with a 21-10 loss to Lehigh at home last week. Army was pounded 44-3 at home by Duke last week for their second straight defeat. Kickoff from Michie Stadium in West Point, New York is scheduled for 12:00 pm ET and will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network. The current line has Army as a 23 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 44 points.
Bucknell struggled to move the ball against a stiffening Lehigh defense and that proved to cost them in this contest. The Bison were outgained 432-233 in the game and they failed to capitalize on being a +1 in the giveaway/takeaway ratio. Bucknell allowed Lehigh to control time of possession, 34:00 to 26:00, and allowed 23 first downs while converting only 13 of their own. Third down conversions were extremely crucial in the game: Lehigh converted 13 of 18 third downs while Bucknell finished 5 of 14 in the game.
The Bison aren’t a major offensive machine as they average 16.2 points a game but they don’t give up many points either; they allow 16.6 points per contest. Bucknell averages 183.6 yards per game through the air and 113.2 yards per game on the ground while averaging only 3.2 yards per carry. R.J. Nitti is the team’s quarterback; he’s hit 82 of 157 passes for 918 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions on the year. The run game is led by C.J. Williams, who has 99 carries for 410 yards but his long run of the year is 18 yards. Matt DelMauro contributes 41 carries for 173 yards and a score; Nitti has four rushing touchdowns but has a total of -32 rushing yards. Andrew Owers is the team’s leading receiver with 16 catches for 217 yards while Will Carter has 15 receptions for 146 yards plus two scores. John Burdick has hit all eight extra points but is only 3 of 7 on field goals on the year; his long is only 30 yards as he is 1 of 4 from between 30 and 39 yards.
Army was completely shut down by Duke in their loss as they allowed 458 yards of offense while picking up just 168 yards of their own. The Black Knights turned the ball over three times in the contest; they were down 27-0 at the half and the game was over at that point. Army allowed Duke to start three of their scoring drives on the Black Knights side of midfield. The Black Knights simply aren’t a good enough team to be able to overcome giving the opposition short fields to put points on the board.
The Black Knights definitely are a run first offense: they are 126th in the nation averaging 76.2 yards per game through the air and 12th in the nation with 258.7 yards rushing per contest. They are scoring 23 points per game on the year while they are 86th in scoring defense by allowing 29.3 points per contest. Their four losses prior to the blowout to Duke were by a combined 16 points. Army has run the ball 304 times while throwing it just 43; they’ve completed 20 of those passes for 457 yards with four touchdowns and four picks. The run game is the bread and butter: quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw leads the team with 308 yards and four scores on the ground. He’s one of seven players for the Black Knights with at least 157 yards rushing so far this season. Aaron Kemper is the lead back in the system with 43 carries for 255 yards and a score while Matt Giachinta has contributed 40 carries for 208 yards and a touchdown. Ten players have caught at least one pass for Army; John Trainor leads the team with four catches for 72 yards. Daniel Grochowski has booted all 15 extra point attempts and 2 of 3 field goals this season with a long of 41 yards.
Army was obliterated by the Blue Devils last week and they need to be able to run the ball in order to have offensive success. Bucknell has plenty of veteran experience on the offensive line and should be able to move the ball. Even if Army can keep the Bison in check, it’s unlikely that they can be able to do that for 60 minutes. Army may be able to win the game straight up but we’ve seen them fall to a FCS team already this season; having to give three plus touchdowns is too much to ask for in this contest.