The Sunshine State is ready for an Army football revival. West Point, which hasn’t had a winning record since 1996, is ranked No. 44 in the Orlando Sentinel’s pre-season rankings of all 120 Division 1 college football teams.
That’s right. The Orlando Sentinel has Army ranked higher than college football powerhouses Tennessee, Michigan, Clemson and even Notre Dame.
Coach Rich Ellerson, who is entering his second year as Army’s head coach, led the Black Knights to a 5-7 record in his first year, one win shy from the program’s first bowl game since 1996. Ellerson brought back the option offense to West Point and will return quarterback Trent Steelman who started last year as a true freshman.
The Black Knights lose their 6-10 wide receiver Alejandro Villanueva, but return the nucleus of a team ready to turn the corner. Turning a corner to become the 44th best in the nation might be a bit optimistic, but it’s not out of the question considering Army’s schedule. Air Force will travel to West Point this year. In fact, every team other than Air Force and Navy is ranked lower than Army in this poll, which is comical considering Notre Dame is on Army’s schedule this year. My oh my how far the Irish have fallen.
Army is probably not going 10-2 and will lose some games it probably should win like their match-up against Duke in Durham, N.C., but it’s not crazy to think Army could surprise Air Force and finish the season above .500. Of course, the season will again be a failure if Army can’t get off the mat and beat Navy for the first time since 2001. I’m sure plenty of cadets would trade a one-win season over an eight-win season as long as that one win came against their rivals down at Sail Boat U.