The 2017 college football season will see Army playing 12 regular season games with hopefully a Bowl Game thrown in for good measure. It is fair to say though that not every one of those games means the same. That is why this little primer looks at the Black Knights must-win and trap game for this fall.
Must-win: December 9 vs. Navy (@ Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia)
This is always going to be the most must win game on the Black Knights schedule but in 2017 the contest takes on a little more significance. Last season the Black Knights took down the Mids 21-17 in a victory that ended Navy’s 14-year winning streak over Army. It was a huge moment for the Back Knights’ football program as Army had gone so close to beating Navy on so many occasions but had always fallen just short.
The problem is that a loss in 2017 almost makes the 2016 victory meaningless. If Navy wins again this fall then last year will be treated as nothing more than a fluke before the usual order was restored. For Army to be seen as competing at the level of Navy the Black Knights need to start a winning streak of their own that continues for a few years. That would boost recruiting and chance how the two academies are viewed.
Must-win that isn’t Navy: September 1 vs. Fordham
The last time Army met Fordham on the football field it was the first game of the 2015 season. Hopes were high for Army in 2015, but a series of bad bounces and brutal losses saw the season fall apart. Those losses started on opening day when Army went down 37-35 to the FCS school. The first game of the season is rarely pretty, but it is one that sets the tone for the whole season. Army just cannot afford to fall to Fordham again on opening day, especially with the hype and buzz behind the team being the biggest it has been in a long, long time.
Trap Game: September 9 vs Buffalo
This is another game where Army should have revenge on its mind. The Bulls were the first team to beat Army in 2016 when they took down the Black Knights 23-20 in overtime at home. It was a game Army should have won but it was yet another contest where things didn’t quite work out that way. The saddest part of this was that it was one of only two wins Buffalo picked up in 2016 with the other being over Akron.
It is the timing of this game that makes it a potential trap as there is no reason to expect Buffalo to be massively better in 2017. Army plays the Bulls in week two and it is directly after the opening game against Fordham and right before the Army takes on the biggest name on its schedule in Ohio State. That placement between two games that the players will focus on means that Jeff Monken has to see the potential of this to be a trap game and he will work hard on not letting Army lose to an inferior opponent.