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5 things to know about Army football before it plays Wisconsin for the first time

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Army is making the trip to Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday night for the program’s first-ever meeting with the University of Wisconsin football team. The Badgers are 14-point favorites against the Black Knights, who were undefeated before losing to Ball State last week.

Should the Black Knights (4-1) defeat UW (2-3), it will mark their first win against a Big Ten Conference team in 10 years.

Here’s five things to know about Army.

State Journal beat reporter Colten Bartholomew and columnist Jim Polzin discuss Jalen Berger's dismissal and UW's matchup with Army

UW’s first game against Army

This is Army’s only game against a first-time opponent this season, but it was 4-0 last season against teams it never before had played.

Saturday’s game will be the Badgers’ fourth time playing a service academy and their first since defeating Air Force 38-0 in 1979. UW is 2-1 all-time against service academies with a 1-0 mark vs. Air Force and 1-1 record against Navy.

The defenses

In 2020, the Black Knights had the best total defense in the FBS. They currently rank ninth, while UW ranks second.

Army has recorded an interception in all but one game this season. It also has limited opponents to 250 yards or less on three occasions — 177 at Georgia State, 225 vs. UConn and 232 vs. Miami (Ohio).

Outside linebacker Andre Carter is the nation’s leader in sacks with 7.5. He had a single-game high with three against Georgia State.

Triple-option offense

Service academies often do not have the physical size that some of their big-time opponents do, but the triple-option offense helps Army control the clock and grind out games. Army runs a flexbone triple-option offense that features multiple players in the backfield.

Army ranks second in the FBS in rushing with 318.2 yards per game, behind only Air Force. UW has the No. 1 rushing defense at 41.4 yards allowed per game. Army’s philosophy is to run the ball regardless of the situation, which it often does even in long-yardage situations.

Likely to be fast-paced

Both teams love to run the ball. UW ranks 30th in rushing offense with 208.8 yards per game. The Badgers had 391 yards rushing in last week’s victory against Illinois, but only 100 passing yards. Graham Mertz also has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (two) this season, so he may be more likely to pass the ball.

Four Black Knights players have rushed for more than 150 yards this season — quarterback Christian Anderson with 431, running back Tyrell Robinson (237), running back Jakobi Buchanan (187) and running back Anthony Adkins (185).

What will be interesting to see is how UW’s rushing defense, ranked No. 1 in the country, fares against Army’s No. 2 rushing offense.

Special teams

Army has given up two kickoff returns for touchdowns in its past three games, one in a 52-21 win against UConn and another in a 28-16 loss to Ball State.

The Black Knights also are limited in the kicking game. They use two kickers who are 4-for-4 on field goals, but neither has hit from longer than 31 yards. Cole Talley’s career long is 41 yards and Quinn Maretzki‘s is 40 yards.


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