Week 7 football preview: Kent State at Army

Maples Army

Running back Raymond Maples, coming off a career day against Boston College last week, leads the Black Knights’ ground game into Saturday’s showdown with Kent State at West Point. (US Presswire photo by Danny Wild)

What Black Knights fans need to know as Army concludes a three-game homestand.

Who, where, when: Kent State (4-1, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) at Army (1-4), Saturday, noon.

TV: CBS Sports Network (Ben Holden and Randy Cross have the call).

Gambling is illegal in most states: Kent State is a 2.5-point favorite.

A storied rivalry: The teams have played twice. Army’s 2-0, with then-sophomore QB Trent Steelman leading the Black Knights to their most recent win over the Golden Flashes, a 45-28 shootout in Ohio in 2010.

What’s he been up to lately?: Steelman’s 141-yard, three-touchdown rushing effort Saturday against Boston College was part of Army’s 516-yard rushing onslaught, which led to a 34-31 victory. His 2,503 career rushing yards are the most by an Army quarterback, and his 36 rushing TDs are third ever at West Point behind Mike Mayweather (37) and Heisman-winner Glenn Davis (43). Get some more Steelman stats from Army football guru Sal Interdonato here.

Back at the top: Thanks to Steelman and running backs Raymond Maples (career-best 184 yards versus BC) and Larry Dixon (92 yards per game), the Black Knights have reclaimed the top rushing spot in the Football Bowl Subdivision, averaging more than 397 yards a game. Kent State ranks 30th, but averages about half the yardage output (201.8 ypg).

On the flip side: Army’s reclaimed its traditional spot in the passing ranks, too — 119th out of 120 FBS teams with 54.2 yards per game, barely edging out New Mexico (48.83 ypg). They’re with the usual suspects otherwise: Air Force ranks 118th (112 ypg), just behind Navy (116.6 ypg).

A special special-teamer: Meet Kent State junior Dri Archer. Army’s special teams and defensive coaches likely haven’t slept all week because of this junior — three kick returns for touchdowns, an NCAA-best 47.7 yards per return, a touchdown every 6.4 times he touches the ball, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer piece linked above, and a 40-yard-dash time, he says, hovering just above 4.2 seconds. Put simply, Army defenders will need to have their assignments down cold — and better not blink.


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