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Army West Point vs. Air Force Football Prediction and Preview

Army West Point Black Knights vs. Air Force Falcons Football Prediction and Preview

The Falcons can clinch the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy with a win over the Black Knights on Saturday

The Army West Point Black Knights and Air Force Falcons will meet in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday in the Lockheed Martin Commanders' Classic with the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy on the line. The Army-Navy Game has a long history of matchups at neutral-site venues, and Air Force and Army have met in both Chicago and New York before. However, since 1965, the Falcons played academy rivals in home stadiums only. That changes with the Commanders' Classic being hosted at Globe Life Field, home of MLB's Texas Rangers, this year and next.

Because of its 23-3 victory over Navy on Sept. 11, Air Force has an opportunity to bring the hardware back to Colorado Springs for the first time since 2016. The Falcons are already bowl eligible at 6-2, though a 20-14 loss to San Diego State in their last game on Oct. 23 dropped Air Force's record to 3-2 in Mountain West play and dented the squad's conference title hopes. Independent Army has a 4-3 record after its 70-56 loss to Wake Forest on Oct. 23, a third consecutive defeat after a 4-0 start to the season. The Black Knights won the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy in 2020 and have won the series in three of the last four seasons.

Army West Point at Air Force

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 6 at 11:30 a.m. ET
Spread: Air Force -2.5

When Army West Point Has the Ball

Quarterback Christian Anderson leads the Black Knights with 427 rushing yards despite recording only one carry across Army's last three games. Anderson, who ranks second on the team with five rushing touchdowns among his 59 carries, missed the losses to Ball State and Wisconsin because of injuries. He returned briefly to face Wake Forest but only attempted one pass (a 39-yard gain, which made him 9-for-16 for 226 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions this season) and one four-yard loss on the ground.

Anderson has reportedly been able to practice in the run-up to this week's game and could start. If not, Tyhier Tyler and Jabari Laws would be ready to step in again. Tyler ran for 104 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries against the Demon Deacons to push his season totals to 303 yards and four scores on 72 attempts. Laws is the better passer, having completed 14 of 17 attempts for 227 yards and three touchdowns without an interception this year. All three of Laws' touchdowns came against Wake Forest, two of which found leading receiver Isaiah Alston. Alston caught six passes for 107 yards in the last game and leads the team with 10 receptions, 216 yards, and three scores.

Fullback Jakobi Buchanan leads the Black Knights in rushing attempts (71) and touchdowns (6) while ranking fifth with 213 rushing yards. Tyrell Robinson (380 rushing yards, 99 receiving yards, 6 total TDs) and Anthony Adkins (284 rushing yards, 4 TDs) have had most of the success outside the tackles, though the list of potential contributors in Army's option offense is long: 17 Black Knights have recorded at least one carry this season.

When Air Force Has the Ball

Army ranks No. 2 in FBS with an average of 312.3 rushing yards and 63.6 rushing attempts per game and is tied for second with 26 rushing touchdowns. The only team ahead of them? Air Force, the leader with 318.4 yards on 63.8 attempts per contest and 28 scores.

Air Force's option offense also runs through its quarterback, and, like the Black Knights, the starter comes in less than 100 percent. Haaziq Daniels left the Falcons' last game with an apparent hip or back injury and gave way to Warren Bryan, who was also banged up against the Aztecs. Daniels is reportedly on track to play this week, and Air Force is at its best with him under center. The junior has completed just 44.6 percent of his passes and has two touchdowns and two interceptions but averages 10.0 yards per attempt, which would rank No. 4 on the FBS leaderboard if he had enough attempts to qualify. Daniels is also the Falcons' second-leading rusher with 575 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns on 110 carries.

Brad Roberts has been a workhorse out of the backfield with 845 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 185 attempts this season, and Micah Davis has been a versatile weapon with 360 rushing yards and four touchdowns as well as 221 receiving yards and a team-leading two scores on 10 catches. Only Brandon Lewis (9 receptions, 226 yards) has more receiving production. With talented tight end Kyle Patterson (3 rec., 81 yds.) and receiver David Cormier (2, 36) both out with injuries, Davis and Lewis are the only available Air Force receivers with more than one catch this season. Emmanuel Michel and Omar Fattah have split the job at fullback, with Michel gaining 233 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries and Fattah chipping in with 179 yards on 37 attempts.

Final Analysis

Looking at each team's stats, Army and Air Force are near carbon copies of one another on offense. Though the Black Knights rank far lower in many defensive categories, including 109th in yards per play (6.41) and 117th in yards per pass attempt (9.1), both against FBS opponents, those numbers skewed by undefeated and top-10 ranked Wake Forest's high-octane attack. Army knows how the Falcons operate, and big plays should be few and far between for either squad.

After a midseason postponement last year, Army beat the Falcons 10-7 to win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, having shut out Navy 15-0 one week earlier. But Air Force has the opportunity to celebrate with the trophy this season.

Prediction: Air Force 21, Army 17

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— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and managing editor of CFBWinningEdge. Follow him on Twitter @CFBWinningEdge.