WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army football team returns home this Saturday to battle Mid-American Conference opponent Temple at Michie Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.
The game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports Network with Dave Ryan (play by play), Jason Sehorn (color analyst) and Cadet Chris Frasse (sideline reporter) calling the action. A live video stream of the game will be available via CBS College Sports XXL (www.cbssports.com).
The Army Sports Network will have the audio call of the game on its flagship station WABC (770-AM), as well as WALL (1340-AM) and WEOK (1390-AM), Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 126) and ITT Knight Vision. Rich DeMarco (play by play), Dean Darling (color analyst) and Tony Morino (sideline reporter) will cover the game on the Army Sports Network.
Army (3-1) is off to its best start since the 1996 team began the year 4-0. The Black Knights won their second straight game last Saturday with a convincing 35-21 victory at Duke. The win was Army's first over an ACC opponent on the road since 1971. The Black Knights turned five Duke miscues into 28 points en route to the victory.
Temple (3-1) began the season with consecutive victories over Villanova, Central Michigan and Connecticut, before suffering a 22-13 defeat at 23rd-ranked Penn State last week. The Owls jumped out to a 13-6 lead on the Nittany Lions, but they were unable to hold onto it.
Army head coach Rich Ellerson is in his second season guiding the Black Knights. He posted a 5-7 record during his first season along the banks of the Hudson, and he currently holds an 8-8 mark at West Point. Army had posted just seven victories in the 32 games prior to Ellerson's arrival.
Temple is coached by Al Golden, who is in his fifth season leading the Owls' program. He has led the team to a 22-31 record since taking over the reins prior to the 2006 season. Last year, Golden guided Temple to its first winning season since 1990 (9-4) and its first bowl game appearance in 30 years.
Army and Temple have met seven times previously, with the Black Knights holding a slim 4-3 edge in the all-time series. The Owls have won the last two meetings, including a 27-13 decision last year in Philadelphia, Pa.
Ellerson knows that Temple presents a difficult challenge this week.
"Temple is the best football team that we've faced this year," said Ellerson. "They are easily the most physical football team we've faced this year. They're a program that was in a bowl game a year ago, and they're off to a great start. They are used to winning, and they are used to winning late. They are used to finding a way when their backs are to the wall in the fourth quarter, of coming up with plays. This is going to be a great challenge for us. We can't wait."
Army, which is averaging 29.5 points per game, is led by its dominant rushing offense. The Black Knights enter Saturday's matchup with Temple ranked eighth in the nation with 274.8 rushing yards per contest. Army has already scored 14 rushing touchdowns this fall, after totaling just 13 ground scores a year ago.
The Black Knights spread the wealth offensively with four different players averaging more than 40 rushing yards per game. Senior slotback Patrick Mealy (56.0 yards/game) and sophomore quarterback Trent Steelman (51.2) lead the way, while sophomore fullback Jared Hassin (47.8) and sophomore slotback Brian Cobbs (45.8) follow closely behind.
Steelman has continued develop in the passing game, completing 54.8 percent of his throws and having authored a passer efficiency rating of 139.3 through four games. Last week versus Duke, the second-year signal caller completed 4-of-6 passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior wide receiver Austin Barr, junior wide receiver Davyd Brooks and sophomore wide out George Jordan have all emerged as viable options for Steelman when he drops back to pass. Barr had the hot hand against Duke, pulling down three balls for 51 yards and a touchdown. He comes into Saturday's action leading the Black Knights with six receptions and 81 receiving yards. Brooks (four catches, 61 yards) and Jordan (four receptions, 43 yards) have been steady as well.
Temple, which averages 21.8 points per game, is more balanced offensively than Army. Through four contests, the Owls are averaging 146.5 rushing yards per game and 139.8 passing yards per game. The offense runs through redshirt-junior quarterback Chester Stewart, who has thrown for 556 yards and two touchdowns in four games.
The Owls' rushing attack is paced by sophomore running back Bernard Pierce, who is averaging 85.8 yards per game with five rushing touchdowns. Pierce is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield as well, having hauled in four receptions for 44 yards and another score through the air.
Stewart's top receiving option is senior wide receiver Michael Campbell, who has caught 10 balls for 142 yards and a touchdown.
Army's defense has played especially well over the past two contests. The Black Knights forced five turnovers in their victory over Duke last week, and they come into Saturday's contest versus Temple having come up with 12 takeaways through four games.
Senior linebacker Stephen Anderson leads the defensive unit with 31 tackles. He has also posted one interception and one tackle for loss. Senior defensive end Josh McNary has been Army's top defensive playmaker through four games, having recorded 22 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 quarterback sacks. He is Army's all-time leader in both sacks (23) and tackles for loss (42.5).
Senior defensive back Jordan Trimble leads the Black Knights' secondary with 18 tackles and an interception. Fellow senior defensive back Donnie Dixon has posted 17 tackles. He intercepted a pass against Duke that he returned inside the Blue Devils' 10-yard line to set up an Army touchdown.
Temple's defense is led by senior defensive back Jaiquawn Jarrett and senior linebacker Elijah Joseph, who pace the team with 28 tackles apiece. The Owls, who are yielding just 18.0 points per game, have allowed their opponents to score just four touchdowns in 14 trips to the red zone.
Ellerson is quite impressed with the Owls' defense.
"It is easily the most physical outfit (we've seen this year)," said Ellerson. "They're a veteran outfit. They're a very gifted outfit. They're used to being successful. They're used to stopping people. They're used to taking the football away. They're used to making big plays in critical situations. They're very confident, and they're very competent within their own system. They're very, very physical, and very gifted."
It will be Homecoming Weekend at West Point, and the first 5,000 fans through the turnstiles will receive a Glenn Davis bobblehead doll.
Army will return to the road next weekend when the Black Knights travel to New Orleans, La., to take on Tulane in the Louisiana Superdome. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET.
Mini-plan and single-game tickets for all Army home contests are currently on sale at the Army Ticket Office, by phone at 1-877-TIX-ARMY or online at www.goARMYsports.com.