WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army is back in the bowl picture for the first time since 1996. The Black Knights earned a berth in the 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl thanks to a 6-6 regular season, the program’s highest win total since that 1996 squad posted a 10-2 record and played in the Independence Bowl.
Kickoff at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas is set for 12:05 p.m. ET.
TELEVISION ESPN Play-by-Play: Beth Mowins Color Analyst: Ray Bentley Sideline Reporter: Jone Berger
ARMY RADIO Army Sports Network Flagship: WABC (770-AM, New York, N.Y.) Affiliates: WALL (1340-AM, Middletown, N.Y.); WEOK (1390-AM, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) Play-by-Play: Rich DeMarco Color Analyst: Dean Darling Sideline: Tony Morino Program Host: Bob Outer
The 90-minute “Army Football Tailgate Show,” begins at 10 a.m. ET.
NATIONAL RADIO ESPN Radio Play-by-Play: Dave LaMont Color Analyst: JC Pearson Sideline Reporter: Elizabeth Moreau COACHING MATCH-UP ARMY HEAD COACH RICH ELLERSON Alma Mater: Hawai’i, 1977 2nd Season at Army (11-13, .458) 11th Season Overall (71-54, .568) Record vs. SMU: 0-0
SMU HEAD COACH JUNE JONES Alma Mater: New York State Regents College 3rd Season at SMU (16-22, .421) 12th Season Overall (92-62, .597) Record vs. Army: 1-0
ARMY QUICK HITTERS The 2010 season marks the first time all three service academies will participate in bowl games. Navy will square off with San Diego State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 and Air Force will meet Georgia Tech in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl on Dec. 27.
The Black Knights enter postseason play with the nation’s 10th-ranked rushing offense. Army is averaging 256.00 yards per game and has cracked the 3,000-yard mark (3,072) for the first time since 1998.
Army’s rushing success has translated into a dramatic increase in scoring. The Black Knights scored 13 rushing touchdowns in 2009, but have found paydirt via the rush 33 times in 2010. Army’s overall touchdown total has jumped from 19 to 41. Army is averaging 27.5 points per game, its highest mark since 1996 (31.8). It is the first time since 2005 that Army has averaged as many as 20.0 points per contest.
The Black Knights’ triple-option attack has been keyed by a pair of sophomores — QB Trent Steelman and FB Jared Hassin. Hassin leads the team with 931 rushing yards and ranks second with nine rushing touchdowns. He is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Steelman is next on the list with 694 yards and a team-high 11 rushing touchdowns. The duo’s 1,625 combined yards place them 11th on the Army all-time rushing duo chart.
Steelman has also been effective through the air, completing 54.8 percent of his throws (69-126) for 965 yards, seven touchdowns and only three interceptions. If he can throw for 35 yards against the Mustangs, he will become the first Army player to rush for 500-or-more yards and throw for 1,000-or-more yards in the same season. His 1,659 yards of total offense rank eighth on the Army single-season ledger. His 3,002 yards through 23 career games already ranks 10th all-time in Army history.
Defensively, the Black Knights rank 26th in the nation in total defense (332.0). Army is seventh in the country in turnover margin (+1.08/game). Senior LB Stephen Anderson leads the team with 94 tackles, while senior DE Josh McNary boasts 9.5 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss. McNary is Army’s all-time leader in both categories (27.5 sacks; 48.5 tackles for loss).
A WIN VS. SMU WOULD ... • Give the Black Knights seven wins for the first time since the 1996 squad went 10-2. • End Army’s two-game losing streak. • End Army’s two-game losing streak in bowl games. • Clinch Army’s first winning season since 1996. • Mark only the second time that all three service academies have won seven games in the same season (1963: Army, 7-3; Navy, 9-2; Air Force, 7-4). • Make Rich Ellerson the first Army head coach to win at least 12 games in his first two seasons since Tom Cahill won 16 games in 1966 (8-2) and 1967 (8-2). • Give Army a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series versus SMU. • Snap a nine-game losing streak in the month of December. • Improve Army’s all-time bowl record to 3-2. • Be the 649th win in the 121 seasons of Army football (648-461-51; .580).
THE ARMY-SMU SERIES Army and SMU have met twice before on the gridiron with the Black Knights winning both games.
The Black Knights scored a 14-13 win in the first meeting on Oct. 6, 1928 at West Point. The teams did not meet again until a 24-6 Army win in Dallas on Oct. 13, 1967.
ARMY IN THE LONE STAR STATE The 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will mark the third straight season the Black Knights have played a game in the state of Texas. Army scored a 17-13 win at North Texas on Nov. 21, 2009 in its last trip to Texas.
Army’s first visit to the Lone Star State was a 17-6 loss at Texas On Oct. 3, 1964.
The Black Knights are 6-10 all-time in Texas.
Army’s last five games in the state have been decided by a touchdown or less.
ROAD WARRIORS Army scored its fifth consecutive win on an opponent’s home field at Kent State. The Black Knights have won five straight games played in their opponent’s home stadium for the first time since a six-game winning streak over the 1966 and 1967 seasons. During the current run, Army has lost to Navy twice at Lincoln Financial Field, Rutgers at the New Meadowlands Stadium and Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium.
Under head coach Rich Ellerson, Army is 6-3 in true road games. The Black Knights were 4-15 on opponents’ home fields from 2005-08.
Army’s win at Kent State marked the first time that the Black Knights won four true road games in a season since 1967.
CLEARING ANOTHER HURDLE In addition to going for its first winning season since 1996, the Black Knights will be going for another program milestone. Army has lost 22 straight games against teams with a winning record.
The last Army victory over a team above the .500 mark was a 38-10 win against Arkansas State (5-4) on Nov. 19, 2005.
Army is 0-4 this season against teams that entered the game at least one game better than .500 (Temple, Rutgers, Air Force and Navy).
RUSHING TOWARD THE TOP TEN Army cracked the 3,000 rushing yard mark for the season against Navy. The Black Knights’ 3,072 yards ranks 14th on the Academy single-season list. It is the 15th time Army has run for 3,000 yards in a season.
Army needs just 175 yards to crack the Academy’s all-time top 10.
The 1988 squad holds the record with 3,815 yards in just 11 games.
The Black Knights’ 678 rushing attempts ranks 11th on the Academy single-season ledger. Army is on pace to become the eighth team in West Point history to total at least 700 rushing attempts.
THE MAGIC NUMBER Army won its 11th straight game when holding an opponent to 14 points or less in its 29-7 win over VMI. The last time the Black Knights allowed 14-or-fewer points and lost was Sept. 2, 2006 in a 14-6 loss at Arkansas State. Since 2000, Army is 14-2 when holding opponents to no more than 14 points.
Entering the season, Army had lost 25 straight games when allowing 27-or-more points, but the Black Knights have two such wins this season. Army scored a 31-27 win at Eastern Michigan and a 45-28 win at Kent State.
After the loss to Navy, the Black Knights are 20-107 since 1996 when allowing opponents to score 18-or-more points. In that same span, Army is 28-7 when the opponent tallies 17 or less.