The second bowl game to be played on Saturday, Dec. 22 is the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Kickoff is schedule for 3:30 pm ET at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX. This bowl features the high-scoring Houston Cougars (8-4, 1st AAC – West) playing the defensively tough Army Black Knights (10-2). Our 2018 Armed Forces Bowl preview and free pick has the Knights at anywhere from -6.0 to -7.0. The over/under is at 55.5 or 56.0.
Over their first eight games, Houston went 7-1 with their one loss being to Texas Tech 63-49. However, the Cougars were 1-3 over their final four and ended with a 5-3 conference record. Although they tied Memphis for first in the AAC West, the Tigers 52-31 victory over the Cougars in the final game of the regular season knocked Houston out of the league championship matchup.
The Black Knights started out a bit shaky, going 2-2 in their first four. That included a tough 28-21 OT loss to #5 Oklahoma. Then Army went on an eight-game winning streak that included a 52-3 win over San Jose State and a 17-10 victory against the Midshipmen of Navy. Here how our 2018 Armed Forces Bowl preview sees this game developing.
Houston – Analysis
The Cougars utilized both their passing and ground games to score on average 46.4 PPG. The team averaged 528.6 YPG, which included 300.9 YPG in the air. They rushed for on average 227.7 YPG. Houston will be without star QB D’Eriq King and his 63.5 COMP%, 36 TD passes, 14 rushing TDs due to injury. Freshman Clayton Tune (44.7 COMP%, 7 TDs, 2 INTs), who has appeared in four games this season, throwing 85 passes for 585 yards. Houston junior RB Patrick Carr, who averaged 5.7 YPA and gained 816 yards this season, will be the main rusher. He’s scored five TDs. Tune has a good group of receivers, including Marquez Stevenson, who has nine scoring catches, and Keith Corbin, with 10 receptions for TDs.
But Houston struggled on defense, allowing 34.4 PPG. Teams averaged 488.9 YPG, including 291.4 YPG passing and 197.5 rushing. Versatile LB Austin Robinson (115 TCKLs, 13.0 TFL, 6 SCKs) and DT Ed Oliver (54 TCKLs, 14.5 TFL, 3 SCKs) are both solid on D. Houston has over 80 TFL.
Army – Analysis
Army was good for 29.7 PPG and like most Black Knights teams, this one emphasizes the run. While the Army passing game is averaging 79.7 YPG, the running game is compiling 296.3 ground yards. Junior QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. (53.3 COMP%, 6 TDs, 3 INTs) is primarily a rusher. He’s rushed for 847 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 4.3 YPG. Senior RB Darnell Woolfolk has scored 14 times, as he’s gained a total of 885 yards while averaging 4.2 YPA.
The Black Knight defense is exceptionally stingy. Teams are averaging 293.5 total yards per game against them with just 185.3 in the air. The remaining 108.2 are ground yards. The D has 57 TFL and 39 PD. Deep back Mike Reynolds leads the team with three interceptions and 11 PD. The Knights have forced 11 fumbles and recovered every one of them. Our 2018 Armed Forces Bowl preview finds that this team is tough in the red zone.
Five Keys to the Game
- Army has been playing great football as of late, Houston has struggled
- Big matchup -inexperienced Houston QB Tune vs Army’s daunting D
- Black Knights rush attack is tough to contain
- Strength of Cougar defense is against the rush.
- Houston must run successfully
Our 2018 Armed Forces Bowl Preview – Pick
Our 2018 Armed Forces Bowl preview sees the Black Knights as having an edge on both sides of the ball. Plus, we find they’re deeper and more experienced. We think that Army will dominate in this game. Take the Knights at -6.0. The low on the over/under of 55.5 or 60.0 is tempting. Army could score around 38 points, and we think that Houston will respond with around 24. Go with the over at 55.5. Connect to more free 2018 college football bowl picks.