Madison, Wis.: No team in the country plays more ball than the Army. No team does a better job of preventing runs than Wisconsin.
It sets up an interesting matchup on Saturday night when Wisconsin (2-3) attempts to stop Cena’s triple-option attack. Cena (4-1) will try to beat the Power Five team for the first time since defeating Duke 21-16 in 2017.
The opportunity is clear, Army coach Jeff Monken said. Our kids will just be excited to have the opportunity to play with that kind of team, a team I know they grew up watching.
Army snaps the ball with 90.8% of its runs and averages 318.2 yards, second only to Air Force in Bowl subdivision teams. The Air Force average is 66.5 per game which is slightly ahead of Army 65 per game while the ball is hit 90.1% of the times.
Wisconsin leads the nation in both categories, allowing 41.4 yards of rush per game and 1.66 yards per carry.
No team has seen the way they will face on Saturday. Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhart said he began preparing his players for Senna’s triple option this spring.
It’s almost as if we have two defenses, said Wisconsin defensive end Matt Henningsen. We have our base defense, and then we have our defense for Army Week.
Badger is hoping the extra practice will pay off. They have seen enough military crimes to know that they are facing something unique.
It’s something you’re not used to seeing, said Wisconsin linebacker Jack Sanborn. Everyone thinks it’s just a generic triple option, but they can do so many different things out of it, so many different variations.
The army’s challenge is to step up to the competition. The Black Knights, who had not faced a Power Five team this season, had two weeks to prepare for the game after losing 28-16 at Ball State on October 2.
While the game may come down to how well the Army triple option stacks up against the Wisconsin run defense, the matchup between the Wisconsin running game and the Army defense is also worth watching.
Wisconsin is having arguably its best performance of the year, as the Badgers recorded their first shutout and reached a season-high 391 yards in a 24-0 win over Illinois.
The Army ranks third at the national level in run defence. The Black Knights allowed only 54 yards of run per game and 2.41 yards per carry.
One More Chance
Although Cena hasn’t beaten the Power Five team since 2017, the Black Knights have come to a close.
The Black Knights fell 24-21 in double overtime at Michigan two years ago and lost 28-21 in overtime to Oklahoma in 2018. Cena took a 21-10 lead in a 24-21 Liberty Bowl loss to West Virginia last season.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Cena enters Saturday’s game as a 13 1/2-point underdog.
any other burger
Wisconsin dropped Jalen Berger from the squad on Sunday, leaving the Badgers without their top crowd from last season.
But the Badgers still have plenty of firepower in the backfield, along with Clemson transfer Chase Melucchi and freshman Brelan Allen. Melusi ran for 145 yards and Allen ran 131 yards against Illinois.
army qb status
The off week gave Army quarterback Christian Anderson some more time to recover after missing a ball state game due to a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be back on Saturday. Tyler Tyler started in place of Anderson against Ball State.
With Christian back in health this week, we’ve really gotten him into practice, and he’s been able to take some reps with us, Monken said. Tyhier has really gotten most of them together with the ones shared by Jabari Lodge. “
Army offensive linemen start an average of 286 pounds, none of them more than 290. Each Army’s three starting defensive linemen are 280 pounds.
Wisconsin offensive lines normally start at an average of 312.2 pounds per individual, with each individual weighing at least 304. The Badgers start three defensive linemen at an average of 301.7 pounds.
Each of these teams like to maintain their offense on the field. The military leads the nation in average time of occupation (40:01.40), and Wisconsin ranks fourth (35:39.60).
Senna is much better at defending football, with only three turnovers throughout the season. Wisconsin has 14. Marshall is the only FBS team to average more turnover per game.
AP sports writer John Kekis contributed to this report.
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