Welcome to the second part of AFF’s annual preseason schedule preview. If you missed the first part, you can find that here.
Friends, Army Football comes out of a tough early season stretch to open the season and heads straight into a tough middle of the season stretch as we get into the month of October. Granted, the Black Knights ought to beat Colgate pretty handily. These other two games, though, will not be easy.
Week 4: Bye
Thankfully, this Week 4 bye is perfectly timed. Yes, it comes early in the season, but we’ll be more than two months past the start of training camp, and the guys will no doubt be feeling it by then. Plus, if the Black Knights haven’t quite found their winning ways by the middle of September, they’ll have this week to retool and figure it out.
All those that continually schedule hate on Army football….we play these four teams in 2022. pic.twitter.com/TkI9djHcMs— Sons of Slum and Gravy (@OfSlumandGravy) January 5, 2022
Week 5: Georgia State
2021 Record: 8-5 (6-2 Sun Belt); beat Ball State in the Camellia Bowl
SP+: -0.5, #73
FPI: -5.0, #89
ESPN’s Bill Connelly thinks that the Sun Belt-East is the best division in the Group of 5, and he might just be right about that. But how much of that owes to the presence of App. State and Coastal Carolina, and how much of it comes from the rest of the — occasionally very good — teams in this division?
It took Georgia State a little while to settle on QB Darren Granger last year, but he played well once he finally got the ball. Granger completed nearly 60% of his passes with 19 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions, and with that, he was able to stabilize an offense that was otherwise struggling to find itself. Now Granger returns as an experienced starter, backed by an experienced offensive line and an experienced running back corps — both of which augment Granger’s own running ability — and yeah, this team ought to be terrific when it can find its footing and just run the damn ball.
On defense, the Panthers bring back 7 starters with a lot of ability rushing the quarterback. However, they’re not the biggest defense, and they struggled mightily against Army’s rushing attack last season. That was a little surprising considering that there are several teams in the Sun Belt-East that run versions of the triple-option, but the final results spoke for themselves.
Projected Line (SP+): Army -1.5
Projected Line (FPI): Army -9
Depending on which ranking you trust more, this game could be anything from almost a push to Army (-10) once we factor in a strong showing from the Black Knight faithful. In reality, the final score probably comes down to who has the better rushing defense.
𝐏𝐑𝐄𝐒𝐄𝐀𝐒𝐎𝐍 𝐀𝐋𝐋-𝐒𝐔𝐍 𝐁𝐄𝐋𝐓 🔥— GSU Football (@GeorgiaStateFB) July 25, 2022
🔗: https://t.co/aJNPxVxlgP #OurCity | #SoundTheHorn pic.twitter.com/Xwf9yGE92p
Week 6: at Wake Forest
2021 Record: 11–3 (7–1 ACC); beat Rutgers in the TaxSlayer Bowl
2022 SP+: +6.4, #49
2022 FPI: +9.1, #30
It was all offense for the Demon Deacons last season, but when they got their slow-mesh working, that offense was pretty incredible. We all obviously saw them hang *70* on the vaunted Black Knights’ defense, but they beat up some of the big boys in the ACC, too, and only fell to Earth late last season with losses to a rebounding Clemson and then to Pitt in the ACC Championship Game. All things considered, Wake fans still have to think of last season as one for the ages.
The Deacons should score a lot of points again this season behind returning star QB Sam Hartman and standout receivers A.T. Perry and Donovan Greene, though Green is coming off an injury after missing all of 2021. But they’ve still got to replace their left tackle and a fair number of starters along a defense that already wasn’t — quite — ready to hold up its end of the bargain last year in big games. The Deacons defense forced a whopping 29 turnovers last year, and that’s great, but they also gave up 42+ points *five* separate times. Worse, they were particularly susceptible to the power running game, as we all saw when they visited Michie Stadium.
Projected Line (SP+): Army +11
Projected Line (FPI): Army +8
We wrote in the first article in this series that the loss of Tennessee meant that Army wasn’t facing a true top-quality Power 5 opponent this year. In fact, this isn’t true, and it was particularly unfair to the Demon Deacons, who would almost certainly meet the Vols as favorites on a neutral field.
Most pundits are predicting 8+ wins for Wake again this season plus a sixth straight bowl appearance. We’re not arguing. When it comes to this game, though, we think you might want to take the Over. Wake has to travel to Florida State the week before they meet the Black Knights, so at a minimum, they won’t be looking ahead in their prep for the triple-option.
Week 7: Colgate
2021 Record: 5–6 (5–1 Patriot League)
Colgate played well against Patriot League competition last season, but the League itself got absolutely smashed by the rest of FCS college football. It’s a little hard to say how things will play out over the course of 2022, but the League itself is running out of excuses for not fielding competent football teams.
College football writ large has long since moved past COVID, and even in the Patriot League, other sports have been playing at a high level for more than a year now. Will Patriot League Football rebound, too?
Projected Line (SP+): N/A
Projected Line (FPI): N/A
Colgate ought to be better. But will they be good?
We’ll see, but I wouldn’t count on it.
We can make a case for the Black Knights in every game we’ve previewed so far this season, but a lot of these are going to be tough contests — even the ones where Army will come in favored. If the Black Knights can win four of these first six, they’ll be doing pretty well. If they somehow do better than that, well, that’s when we might be in for a legitimately special season.
But as we’ve said before, even if Army is just .500 at the halfway mark, it won’t necessarily mean that the sky is falling. There are some good teams in the back half of the schedule, but most of the best teams play the Black Knights early.
More on Andre Carter and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award ⤵️https://t.co/NsMuEtc30O— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) July 29, 2022