Army football is making the trip to Camp Randall on Saturday for the program’s first ever meeting with the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers are 14-point favorites against the Black Knights, who were undefeated before losing to Ball State last week.
If the Black Knights (4-1) defeat UW, it will mark their first win against a Big Ten team in 10 years.
Here’s five things to know about Army football.
UW’s first game against Army
This is Army’s only game against a first-time opponent this season, but it was 4-0 last season against teams it never before had played.
Saturday’s game will be the Badgers’ fourth time playing a service academy and their first since defeating Air Force 38-0 in 1979. Wisconsin is 2-1 all-time against service academies with a 1-0 mark vs. Air Force and 1-1 record against Navy.
Army runs a triple-option offense
Service academies often do not have the size that some of their big-time opponents do, but the triple-option offense helps Army control the clock and grind out games. Army runs a flexbone triple-option offense that features multiple players in the backfield.
Army ranks second in the FBS in rushing with 318.2 yards per game, behind only Air Force. UW has the No. 1 rushing defense at 41.4 yards allowed per game. Army’s philosophy is to run the ball regardless of the situation, which it often is running even in long-yardage situations.
It’s likely to be a fast-paced game
Both teams love to run the ball, Army with its triple-option offense and UW ranks 30th in rushing offense with 208.8 yards per game. The Badgers had 391 yards rushing in last week’s game against Illinois, but only 100 passing yards. Graham Mertz also has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (two) this season, so he may be more likely to pass the ball.
Four different Black Knights have rushed for more than 150 yards this season — quarterback Christian Anderson with 431, running back Tyrell Robinson with 237, running back Jakobi Buchanan with 187 and running back Anthony Adkins with 185.
What will be interesting to see is how UW’s rushing defense, ranked No. 1 in the country, against Army’s rushing offense, ranked No. 2 nationally.
The Black Knights finished the 2020 season with the best total defense in the FBS. They currently rank ninth, while UW ranks second.
Army has recorded an interception in all but one outing this season. It also has limited opponents to 250 yards or less on three different occasions — 177 at Georgia State, 225 vs. Connecticut and 232 vs. Miami (Ohio).
Outside linebacker Andre Carter is the nation’s leader in sacks. He had a single-game high with three at Georgia State and has 7.5 sacks this season.
Army has given up two kickoff returns for touchdowns in its past three games, one in a 52-21 win against Connecticut and another in a 28-16 loss to Ball State.
The Black Knights also are limited in the kicking game. They use two different kickers who are 4 for 4 on field goals this season, but neither has hit from longer than 31 yards. Cole Talley’s career long is 41 yards long and Quinn Maretzki’s is 40 yards.
Badgers in the NFL: Check out top performances by former Wisconsin players in Week 5
T.J. Edwards — EaglesUpdated
Linebacker T.J. Edwards made a special teams play with his team trailing with 4 minutes remaining that swung the game in the Philadelphia Eagles’ favor. Edwards snaked his way through the Panthers’ punt team and blocked a punt and teammate Shaun Bradley recovered it at Carolina’s 27-yard line to set up the winning touchdown drive.
Edwards covered 34.6 yards on the play, according to the NFL's next-gen stats. He also had five tackles on the day, giving him 23 this season.
Alex Ericson — PanthersUpdated
Former UW wideout Alex Ericson primarily has played on special teams since being elevated to Carolina’s active roster last month, and he had a couple big returns to help the Panthers in their loss against Philadelphia.
Ericson had two kick returns for 57 yards, including one for 39 yards in the first quarter that set up a touchdown drive, and he had three punt returns for 39 yards.
Jonathan Taylor — ColtsUpdated
His team lost a heartbreaker in overtime, but former UW tailback Jonathan Taylor played a major role in the Indianapolis Colts’ ability to build a lead in regulation.
Taylor had 53 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and 116 yards and a touchdown on three catches. He took a screen pass on a third-and-15 in the first quarter for a 76-yard touchdown, showing off his acceleration and speed. It was Taylor’s first multi-touchdown game of the season.
Andrew Van Ginkel — DolphinsUpdated
Andrew Van Ginkel has had somewhat of a slow start to his season, much like the rest of the Miami Dolphins, but he turned in a good showing during the team’s blowout loss to the world-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Van Ginkel had three tackles, including one for loss, which pushed him to 21 total tackles this season.
J.J. Watt — CardinalsUpdated
J.J. Watt isn’t the most feared player in his team’s front seven for the first time in his career. But the combination of Watt and edge rusher Chandler Jones has paid dividends for the Arizona Cardinals (4-1).
Watt had three tackles, two of which were for loss, a pass defended and recorded three quarterback hits in a defensive struggle against San Francisco. Watt hasn’t yet tallied a sack this season, but he has been active in the opponents’ backfield with four tackles for loss and six QB hits.