Armed Forces Bowl Picks: Army Black Knights vs. SMU Mustangs

Last Updated: December 29th, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)

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The SMU Mustangs and Army Black Knights probably aren’t the two sexiest bowl teams in the world, but they are both feel good stories, and they should make for a fantastic college football betting action. Before making your Armed Forces Bowl picks in this one on Thursday afternoon, be sure to check out the three keys to which team is beating the NCAA football odds.

Key #1: Jared Hassin has to become a 1,000 yard rusher
The triple option really needs to shine for the Black Knights to have any chance of succeeding in the Armed Forces Bowl. QB Trent Steelman is going to be responsible for both running the ball on his own and getting Hassin the football. Though Steelman is the man that will be the catalyst, Hassin is the one that needs to get the tough yards up the gut. Hassin has a chance to become the second 1,000 yard rusher for the Cadets in the last 20 years if he can get just 69 yards in the Armed Forces Bowl. He had a terrible time in the final few games of the regular season, accounting for just 148 yards on 46 carries with just one TD since November 13th. The Mustangs were torched by the UCF Knights in the Conference USA Championship Game just a few weeks ago, and that only made the rushing numbers for the year even worse. Allowing 142.2 yards per game ranked just No. 51 in the nation, but we have to remember that Conference USA is a conference that is more known for its passing than its rushing. The winner of this battle between Hassin and the SMU front seven is probably going to win this duel.

Armed Forces Bowl Odds at BetUS Sportsbook
Army Black Knights +7.5
SMU Mustangs -7.5
Over/Under 51.5
Click Here to Bet on Your Armed Forces Bowl Picks!

Key #2: Kyle Padron needs to be a superstar
This key really goes back to Hassin as well, as taking care of the football on offense will limit the Mustangs and their lethal passing attack. This is why Army held teams to just 190.5 yards per game through the air this year, but again, we have to remember that this was a schedule that wasn’t very tough, as there wasn’t a bowl eligible team that was beaten this year, and there were only five on the entire schedule. Meanwhile, SMU averaged 273.8 yards per game on the year through the air, which ranked No. 22 in the land. QB Kyle Padron has a real chance to make a name for himself in his second season as a starting quarterback. He put up a real dud against UCF four weeks ago, and he would love to make a big time rebound. He threw for 3,526 yards and 29 TDs this year, though Head Coach June Jones really would have rather seen his signal caller throw fewer than 12 picks. Both WR Aldrick Robinson and WR Cole Beasley should be in store for a great game, as both were 1,000 yard receivers this year. Robinson caught 60 passes for 1,225 yards, an average of 20.4 yards per reception, and he found the end zone 13 times. Beasley was more of a workhorse, catching 84 passes for 1,036 yards and six TDs.

Key #3: Zach Line cannot be forgotten on either side of the ball
Army really can’t just sell out against the pass in this one, or the running game is going to really sneak up on it and bite it in the butt. Padron has some wheels, as he rushed for 254 yards and four TDs this year, but the man of the hour is going to be RB Zach Line. You don’t normally think about a June Jones offense featuring a 1,500 yard rusher, but Line already has 1,391 yards and ten TDs in 2010. This sophomore had back to back 30 carry games against the Marshall Thundering Herd and the East Carolina Pirates, and he finished up the season with 419 yards and three scores in his last three games combined. Needless to say, Line will get his touches in the finale of his sophomore season, if for no other reason, that he’ll be able to build some momentum coming into next year when the Mustangs should really be ready to rock and roll.

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Posted in College Football - Last Updated on Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 @ 6:15 pm (EST)
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