Run With It
Navy leads Division I-A with 287.5 rushing yards per game, led by senior quarterback Lamar Owens and sophomore fullback Adam Ballard. In the Midshipmen's most recent game, a 38-17 win over Temple, Ballard had 29 carries for a career-high 168 yards and a touchdown. Army has given up an average of 140.9 yards and allowed just two players to rush for more than 100 yards this season. Army won't have to worry about freshman slotback Karlos Whittaker, who scored a plebe-record six touchdowns before suffering a season-ending left knee injury against Temple.
Army's balanced offense is led by senior quarterback Zach Dalman and senior running back Carlton Jones. The Black Knights average 19.7 points, but that's misleading because they have averaged 29.7 during their current four-game winning streak. Navy hasn't played well defensively since a 49-21 victory against Tulane on Nov. 5. In the previous two games, against Notre Dame and winless Temple, the Midshipmen gave up 59 points.
Owens has quietly produced one of the best seasons in school history and could exploit an Army defense that has allowed opponents to average 187.2 passing yards per game. Owens is averaging a school-record 10.4 yards per pass attempt and has three receivers who have caught at least nine passes, led by junior Jason Tomlinson, the team's best deep threat. If Owens can be effective early, it would prevent Army from crowding the line of scrimmage, which would make it more susceptible to Navy's running game.
Navy has won the past 11 games in which it has scored first, including four times this season. However, Navy is 2-4 when the opponent scores first. Army is 4-1 this season when it scores first.
-- Jon Gallo