Week 12 football preview: Temple at Army

Larry Dixon

Sophomore fullback Larry Dixon is one of many Black Knights to suffer injuries this season. He should be ready for Saturday’s home finale against Temple. (US Presswire photo by Joe Camporeale)

What Black Knights fans need to know entering the last game at West Point for 2012:

Who, where, when: Temple (3-6, 2-4 Big East) at Army (2-8), Saturday, noon

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

Doubleheader action: Navy hosts Texas State on CBSSN immediately following Army’s game. Drink it in — no more Army or Navy football until the big game Dec. 8 in Philadelphia.

Gambling is illegal in most states: Army is a 3.5-point favorite.

Scouting th … wait, what?: Don’t doubt Las Vegas — Temple brings a better record and a fairly strong schedule into West Point, but it’s the Black Knights who’ve ended up the favorite. The Owls are on a four-game skid and haven’t scored more than 17 points since defeating South Florida 37-28 on Oct. 6. Their offense ranks near the bottom of college football, they are in the midst of a quarterback controversy and they recently scrapped plans for a late-season trip to Hawaii. Aside from losing out on some fun in the sun next month, not scheduling Hawaii ends Temple’s bowl hopes. They can finish 5-6 at best, not enough wins for a postseason berth.

Grinding to the finish: Army senior quarterback Trent Steelman’s no stranger to injury. From limping into the press conference after last year’s Army-Navy game to losing feeling in his throwing shoulder during last week’s loss to Rutgers, his four seasons at the helm of Army’s offense have come with a price. Army football guru Sal Interdonato talked to Steelman and to coach Rich Ellerson about the battle scars the Black Knights have piled up over a long season.

The case for the Owls: Temple has history on its side with wins in the last four meetings with Army, including a 42-14 throttling of the Black Knights in Philadelphia last year. Senior running back Matt Brown is a big-play threat as a punt returner, averaging almost 15 yards a return — eighth in the country. Army’s lost 15 straight games to Big East opponents, dating back to 1997.

Middle man: A key matchup this week will be Steelman and fullback Larry Dixon against Temple middle linebacker Nate Smith, a redshirt freshman who’s second on the team in tackles (62) and has recorded 3.5 sacks and forced three fumbles. Solving the option attack is rough for any linebacker, especially a freshman. He will get some support on the outside from fellow freshman Tyler Matakevich and junior Blaze Caponegro, who earned his rightful place on at least one college all-name team.

Odds and ends: Interdonato says senior Eric Osteen will take over placekicking duties on Saturday. … Junior Raymond Maples is 35 yards away from a 1,000-yard season; Steelman’s already at 1,013. … Aside from “Gangnam Style,” we’re low on Army spirit spots — send us a link via our Facebook page.


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