Army Black Knights

Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (17) hands the ball off to Army running back Darnell Woolfolk (33) during the first half of the Heart of Dallas Bowl NCAA college football game against North Texas Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016 in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
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Army holds off North Texas in OT for first bowl win since 2010

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Consider Jeff Monken‘s turnaround of one of the three FBS service academies complete — at least, as far as what turned into a storybook 2016 season for the Black Knights is concerned.

After jumping out to a 24-7 lead in the first half of the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, Army watched as North Texas scored a pair of touchdowns in the last three minutes of the second quarter to slice the deficit to just a field goal.  The second half turned into a defensive battle, with each team scoring a touchdown apiece before a late UNT field goal knotted the score at 31-all.

In the first overtime, Jordan Asberry‘s three-yard touchdown run gave Army a 38-31 lead.  Asberry’s defensive teammates took care of the rest, keeping the Mean Green out of the end zone on four straight plays to secure the service academy’s first bowl win since 2010.

It was also Army’s eighth win this season, the program’s most since a 10-win 1996 season and just the third time since 1988 they’ve won at least that many games in a season.

The story of the game likely could best be told by a drive that didn’t end in a score — and was quickly matched by one that did.

Taking over at their own 4-yard line and with 12:53 remaining in the fourth, Army proceeded to march 66 yards in 18 plays, bleeding a staggering 10½ minutes off the clock before turning it over to the Mean Green on downs.  UNT got the ball back at their own 30 with just over two minutes and three timeouts remaining, and proceeded to move into field-goal range with just over a minute left.  A pair of penalties, including a holding call, pushed them out of field-goal range; however, a pair of Alec Morris completions got them right back in range.

A 37-yard field goal by UNT’s Trevor Moore with :28 sent the game into overtime, setting the stage for Asberry’s game-winning touchdown.

Army, which came into the game second in the country in rushing (327.8 yards per game), totaled 480 on the ground on the afternoon. Morris, the former Alabama quarterback, passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort.

The win avenges Army’s 35-18 loss to UNT earlier in the season.

Also earlier this season, they snapped a 14-game losing streak to Navy.  With this win, it marks the first time since 1984 that the Black Knights beat their rival and won a bowl game in the same season.

Late North Texas scores keep Army from running away with Heart of Dallas Bowl

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Army Black Knights players wait with an American flag in the tunnel before their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Army came into this afternoon’s Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl second in the nation in rushing.  Its opponent, North Texas, was 105th (out of 128 teams) in the country in stopping the run.  It didn’t take a rocket surgeon to see where this one was headed.

On the strength of 294 first-half yards on the ground, the Black Knights literally ran its way to a 24-21 halftime lead on the Mean Green.  The lead could’ve been a little larger as Army failed to cash in on all four point-afters — they missed the extra point kick after their first touchdown then failed on back-to-back-to-back two-point attempts on the next three scores.

All four of the service academy’s touchdowns came on the ground.  The Black Knights, which came into the game averaging just under 10 pass attempts per game, attempted just one pass the first two quarters — and that one was completed and went for 38 yards.

Seven Black Knight players were credited with at least one carry, with Darnell Woolfolk‘s 84 yards and Tyler Campbell‘s 80 (70 came on a first-quarter touchdown run) pacing the team.  Woolfolk accounted for two of the four rushing touchdowns.

Army’s defense was nearly the equal of its rushing offense in holding UNT’s offense to less than 100 yards prior to the last six minutes-plus of the half for the Mean Green.  Those last six-plus minutes, though, completely changed the complexion of the game.

A nine-play, 83-yard drive, capped off by Jeffrey Wilson‘s 22-yard touchdown pass from former Alabama quarterback Alec Morris with 2:26 left in the half, nearly doubled UNT’s offense output to 177 yards for the first two quarters and cut the deficit to two scores.  After UNT’s defense pushed Army into a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, Morris drove the Mean Green another 68 yards on a possession that ended with the quarterback’s second touchdown pass of the half, a 27-yarder to Rico Bussey, and sliced the margin to a mere field goal with 10 seconds left in the quarter.

Army is seeking to exact revenge for a 35-18 loss to UNT earlier this year in which the Black Knights committed seven turnovers, which the Mean Green turned into 21 points.  In this game, Army hasn’t turned the ball over once.

North Texas will receive the ball to open the second half.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 27 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

ANNAPOLIS, MD - DECEMBER 03:  Members of the Temple Owls celebrate after defeating the Navy Midshipmen 34-10 win the AAC Championship game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 27 bowl menu, which features just the second ranked team to play in the postseason as well as two ACC teams along with one each from the Big 12 and SEC.

WHO: Army (7-5) vs. North Texas (5-7)
WHAT: The 6th Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
WHERE: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: This is one of those unique bowl games in which there’s very tangible recent history on which to look back on — North Texas easily handled Army 35-18 in Denton in Week 7 of the 2016 season, thanks in very large part to a whopping seven Black Knight turnovers.  Since that win, UNT has stumbled while Army hasn’t, with the former going 1-4 down the stretch and the latter 3-2.  Army is easily one of my favorite stories of the 2016 college football season, though, with the service academy winning at least seven games — two of those came against FCS teams, it should be noted — for the first time since 2010 and just the third time in nearly three decades; an eighth win would be the program’s most since going 10-2 during the 1996 season.  They capped off this bounceback regular season in the best way possible, too, beating Navy and snapping a 14-game losing streak in the rivalry game in the process.  While it came in a sub-.500 season, the Mean Green will be playing in a bowl game to cap 38-year-old Seth Littrell‘s first season as a head coach, with UNT going bowling for the first time since 2013.  This is likely the most relevant stat for this game: Army is second nationally in rushing yards per game at 327.8, while UNT is 105th (out of 128 teams) in the country in stopping the run at 219.2 ypg.  Army ran for 303 yards in the loss to UNT earlier in the season, but the Mean Green scored 21 points off Black Knights turnovers to secure the 35-18 win.  Here’s to guessing that more than a half-dozen turnovers aren’t on Army’s bowl agenda and they get that eighth win.  Plus, #Merica, which goes without saying
THE LINE: North Texas, +10
THE PREDICTION: Army 27, North Texas 17

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WHO: Wake Forest (6-6) vs. No. 24 Temple (10-3)
WHAT: The 9th Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
THE LINE: Wake Forest, +11½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Minnesota (8-4) vs. Washington State (8-4)
WHAT: The 39th National Funding Holiday Bowl
WHEN: 7:00 PM ET on ESPN
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
THE LINE: Minnesota, +10
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Baylor (6-6) vs. Boise State (10-2)
WHAT: The 28th Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
WHEN: 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
THE LINE: Baylor, +7½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

New Mexico State putting together FBS independent schedule for 2018

STATESBORO, GA - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Andrew Allen #8 of the New Mexico State Aggies attempts a pass against the Georgia Southern Eagles during the second quarter on October 17, 2015 at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia.  (Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages)
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The Sun Belt is giving Idaho and New Mexico State the old heave ho after next season, and college football’s newest orphans are going about their futures in separate ways. Idaho has announced it will join the Big Sky Conference beginning in 2018, while New Mexico State is going to go it alone as an FBS independent.

Which means, obviously, New Mexico State will have to build its own schedule, each and every year.

The Aggies have begun doing so for 2018. On Monday they announced a home-and-home with Wyoming that will see the Cowboys visit Las Cruces on Aug. 25, 2018 — New Mexico State’s first game as an independent — while the Aggies will make a return visit to Laramie on Sept. 21, 2024.

It will be the two programs’ first meetings since 1953 — the only time New Mexico State and Wyoming have met on the field.

“Deputy AD Braun Cartwright and I have put in an enormous amount of time on football scheduling with the focus on securing games with regional Group of 5 opponents,” New Mexico State AD Mario Moccia said earlier this week. “Unlike in 2013 when we played four Power 5 conference programs, which had ripple effects on future year’s schedules, we have really focused on the home-and-home model.”

On Thursday, New Mexico State another home-and-home with current Sun Belt bunkmate Louisiana-Lafayette. New Mexico State will visit Lafayette on either Sept. 8 or Oct. 6, 2018, while the Ragin’ Cajuns will return the favor on Nov. 16, 2019.

New Mexico State also has a previously scheduled game at Minnesota on Aug. 30, leaving nine games still to be filled. The Aggies could seemingly find dance partners in fellow FBS independents BYU, Army and Massachusetts (Notre Dame is a different story), but even then New Mexico State still has to fill seven more games with the 2018 season only 20 months away.

ACC slaps $25K fines on Louisville, Va Tech for Wakeyleaks scandal

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25:  John Swofford, ACC Commissioner (C) addresses the media during a press conference to announce the New Era Pinstripe Bowl's multi-year partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)
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The ACC has slapped $25,000 fines on Louisville and Virginia Tech for their involvement in the Wakeyleaks scandal, the conference announced Saturday.

As we know, former Wake Forest player and coach Tommy Elrod attempted to sabotage his former team over a 3-year period while serving as his alma mater’s radio analyst. After a prolonged investigation, Louisville and Virginia Tech were the only ACC foes found to have accepted Elrod’s, uh, charity; the Louisville game came last month, while a still unknown Virginia Tech assistant accepted Elrod’s espionage before the teams’ 2014 game. Army was also found to accept Elrod’s stolen material before games in 2014 and ’16.

The Cardinals have suspended co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway for the Citrus Bowl, and now the ACC has slapped a fine that, the conference notes, is the largest institutional fine allowed by the league’s bylaws. (That figure, many have noted, is still half of what the SEC fines its schools for rushing the court or field following a basketball or football game.)

“I am deeply disturbed something like this would occur, and regardless of the degree of involvement, the protection of the competitive integrity of our games is fundamental to any athletic contest,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “Sportsmanship and ethical values are at the core of competitive integrity and in these instances, those were missing. The expectation, regardless of the sport, is that any athletics department staff members would immediately communicate with their supervisor if they are approached by someone from another institution with proprietary information.”

While the entire ordeal seemingly violates a number of NCAA bylaws, the organization has not open an investigation into the matter as of yet. And until that happens, it seems the Wakeyleaks scandal is now effectively closed.