FACTS & STATS: Site: Falcon Stadium (46,692) -- United States Air Force Academy, Colorado. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Army 2-2, AF 1-4. Away Record: Army 1-3, AF 0-3. Neutral Record: Army 0-0, AF 0-0. Conference Record: Army 0-0, AF 0-5. Series Record: Air Force leads, 32-14-1.
GAME NOTES: In the midst of one of his toughest seasons since taking over at Air Force, head coach Troy Calhoun tries to get the Falcons into the win column for the first time this year versus another member of the Football Bowl Subdivision as they clash with the Army Black Knights at home on Saturday.
Calhoun, who took over the Falcons in 2007 after serving as an assistant coach and coordinator in the NFL for a number of years, has already matched his highest loss total with a mark of just 1-7. Air Force has not had a losing regular season since Calhoun became head coach, although the program was 6-7 overall after losing in last year's Armed Forces Bowl to Rice.
This season, the Falcons have just a single victory versus Colgate in the opener, which means the last win over an FBS foe was a 21-7 triumph against Hawaii on Nov. 16, 2012. Last weekend, the Academy was trounced by Notre Dame, 45-10, marking the squad's seventh straight defeat.
As for the Black Knights, they enjoyed a break in the schedule last week, which means they haven't played since being dropped by Temple on Oct. 19 by a score of 33-14. The loss was the second in the last three games for a group that is now two games under .500 overall.
This meeting is just one part of the annual Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series held between the three FBS service academies, the other being Navy. Air Force lost to the Midshipmen early last month in Annapolis by a score of 28-10, while the ceremonial Army/Navy matchup will again be held in Philadelphia next month.
Army won the most recent encounter versus Air Force last season by a score of 41-21, but the series is still owned by the Falcons, 32-14-1.
First and foremost, as is the case with all three academies, the Black Knights take pride in being a top-notch running squad as they enter the week ranked first in the nation with 340.1 ypg on the ground. Doing the most damage has been Terry Baggett with his 768 yards and six touchdowns, while averaging better than nine yards per carry. Although, it should be noted that a good chunk of his yardage came from a single outing against Eastern Michigan when he ran for a program-record 304 yards.
As a unit, Army has scored 21 TDs on the ground, with six coming from Larry Dixon and another four from quarterback Angelo Santiago.
Santiago has also thrown for 333 yards and two touchdowns, but Army is far from a passing threat since the team is averaging a mere 68.8 ypg which is last in the country. Another issue for the Knights is that Santiago is listed as questionable for this weekend with an ankle injury.
From a defensive standpoint, Army has had a lot of troubling slowing opponents who have a knack for putting up yards through the air. The Knights have a pass efficiency defense rating of 159.53, which is 114th in the nation. Opposing teams have thrown for 215.9 ypg and 13 touchdowns, while completing close to 60 percent of their attempts. Josh Jenkins and Justin Trimble have done their best to slow down foes, with both having registered a pair of interceptions,
The Falcons scored the first points of the game against Notre Dame last Saturday, thanks to a 10-yard TD run by Colton Huntsman, and trailed only 14-10 early in the second quarter before being blown out at home. Thanks to Huntsman the Falcons kept their string alive of consecutive games with a rushing touchdown, now numbering 55 in a row, but other than that there was very little to cheer about for the Academy.
Starting quarterback Nate Romine converted 6-of-10 passes for 37 yards and Karson Roberts hit both of his attempts for 12 yards, but that made little difference when you consider Air Force is one of the top rushing teams in the country and produced a solid 290 yards on 65 carries.
The Falcons have now fallen far behind Army when it comes to running the ball, averaging just 271.3 ypg which is now 12th in the country. It wouldn't be so bad if the passing attack had something to offer, but Air Force has gone through a string of quarterbacks and still there is very little production coming from the position.
Delivering just 95.6 ypg through the air, Air Force is 122nd in the nation in that department, only slightly better than the Black Knights.
And like Army, the Falcons also have trouble stopping the pass as they permit 275.4 ypg and 485.9 ypg overall, ranking the group 107th and 116th, respectively.
Two teams that mirror each other in so many ways, there's a chance that the ball could remain on the ground for a full 60 minutes this weekend. For Air Force, this might be the team's last real chance at picking up a victory this season, so they cannot afford to let the opportunity slip away.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Air Force 27, Army 24
Saturday, November 2, 12 p.m. (et).