Updated: 12/20/2017: Rashaad Penny confirms he will play
Aztecs’ star running back Rashaad Penny confirmed he did not even consider skipping the Armed Forces Bowl in preparation for the NFL draft. Penny was named as an NCAA consensus All-American.
Army defensive back Rhyan England (undisclosed injury) is expected to suit up in this one. England has collected 30 tackles in seven games played this season.
San Diego State Aztecs (10-2; 8-4 ATS; 4-7 O/U) vs. Army Black Knights (8-3; 5-6 ATS; 6-5 O/U)
The Army Black Knights will square off with the San Diego State Aztecs in the Armed Forces Bowl on Saturday, December 23rd from Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX. The Aztecs finished the regular season with a 10-2 record and went 6-2 in MWC play, while the Black Knights feature a 9-3 record. These schools last faced off in 2012 in a game San Diego State won by a 42-7 score.
Aztecs Head into Bowl on Four Game Winning Streak
The San Diego State Aztecs enter yet another bowl game with a good chance at making it three consecutive bowl victories. They enter this game riding a solid four game winning streak which included a 35-10 victory over New Mexico in their regular season finale. Aztecs QB Christian Chapman did not put up huge numbers on an offense focused on the run, recording 1848 passing yards with a 13:3 TD to INT ratio. The junior quarterback tossed at least one TD in 10 of 12 games played this season. Watch for Aztecs running back Rashaad Penny in this one. The talented senior running back led the entire Country in rushing with 2027 yards to go along with 19 touchdowns. Penny rushed for over 200 yards in his final four regular season games, and averaged 7.4 yards per carry. Aztec’s top target in the air Mikah Holder finished the season strong with 135 receiving yards in his final two games, and has collected 602 receiving yards on the season.
The Aztecs defense had an outstanding season and rank in the top 15 in the entire country in many defensive categories. They only allowed an average of 304 total yards per game, and feature a stifling rush defense. San Diego State’s two losses this season came to the top team in the MWC West in Fresno State, and a Boise State team that won the MWC Title.
Black Knights Rely Solely on Running Game
The Army Black Knights will be aiming for their second straight bowl win after defeating North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last season. They will be riding a wave of momentum after taking down rival Navy in their regular season finale. Army is an interesting team as they very rarely attempt a pass as their entire offense revolves around their running game. QB Ahmad Bradshaw has only tallied 279 passing yards, however he is a big threat on the ground with 1566 rushing yards and 12 rushing TD”s on the season. Army also features two capable running backs in Darnell Woolfolk and Kell Walker. Woolfolk has rushed for 725 yards and Walker is also a threat, averaging a dazzling 7.3 yards per carry for a total of 592 yards on the season. Army owns the number one ranked running game in the Country with 356 yards per game, and although they have no passing game, they are more than capable of putting up points.
The Black Knights feature a solid defense, however they have played a reasonable easy schedule this season. Their pass defense has been outstanding, holding opponents to 167 rushing yards per game. Army faced one ranked team this season against Ohio State and lost by a 38-7 score. The Black Knights had their six game winning streak snapped in a rough 52-49 loss to North Texas on November 18th, and rebounded with a 14-13 win against Navy to close their regular season.
The San Diego State Aztecs are:
- 4-0 in their last 4 games overall.
- 17-4-2 ATS in their last 23 games after allowing less than 100 rushing yards in their previous game.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after conceding less than 20 points in their previous game.
The Army Black Knights are:
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games against MWC opponents.
I am taking San Diego State in this contest. Army relies only on their running game to generate offense, and they face a tough matchup against a strong rush defense. The Aztecs are holding opponents to an average of 110.8 rushing yards per game, good for eighth in the Country, so I expect San Diego State to contain Ahmad Bradshaw and the Black Knights running game. Furthermore, San Diego State also owns a dangerous offense led by the Nation’s leading rusher in Rashaad Penny who has rushed for a stunning 2027 yards on the season. All signs point to a convincing San Diego State victory.
Pick: San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State is limiting opponents to an average of 18.4 points per game and they should contain the Black Knights. The Black Knights will not have their usual success on the ground against the Aztecs stifling rush defense, and the under is 13-3 in Army’s 16 games in December. Army is also solid defensively, and while I do expect success from Rashaad Penny, Army can at least contain him, plus the under is 4-1 in the Aztecs last five bowl games.