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Once again, the Lone Star State will be the sight of a bowl game on Thursday afternoon, as the SMU Mustangs take on the Army Black Knights in NCAA football betting action. The Armed Forces Bowl should be one of the great ones this year, as these two teams should be putting on a tremendous show.
Armed Forces Bowl Matchup: Army Black Knights vs. SMU Mustangs
Date: Thursday, December 30th, 12:00 ET
Location: Gerald Ford Stadium, Fort Worth, TX
Armed Forces Bowl Line: SMU -7.5
Black Knights Notes: The Black Knights really didn't play much of a schedule this year, but they are going to be proud to be in a bowl game for the first time since the 1996 Independence Bowl. There wasn't a single win against a bowl eligible team this year, and this was an offense that really wasn't all that good. Averaging 340.1 yards per game is nothing to write home about, though the triple option attack really isn't that prone to putting up tremendous numbers. A scoring average of 27.5 points per game was one of the best marks that the Cadets have seen in years, and QB Trent Steelman is to thank. Steelman might have only led a passing attack that ranked dead last in the country, but he was the man running the machine in the triple option. Steelman rushed for 694 yards and a team high 11 TDs this year. RB Jared Hassin might be able to become the second Army running back to reach the 1,000 yard mark in two decades. He is at 931 yards and nine scores so far on the season. Defensively, Army did rank No. 22 in the land at 322.8 yards per game, and though a scoring average of 25.2 points per game was respectable, that average soared up to 34.6 points per game against bowl teams.
Mustangs Notes: Head Coach June Jones knows that he is probably still a year away from SMU really becoming a legitimate challenger for the Top 25. This offense is very, very close, though. Scoring just seven points against the UCF Knights in the Conference USA Championship Game wasn't great, but QB Kyle Padron is right about at the point of explosion, and this might be the game in which he really busts out. He threw for 3,526 yards and 29 TDs this year, and made 1,000 yard receivers out of both WR Aldrick Robinson and WR Cole Beasley. These two men combined for 144 receptions and 19 TDs. However, don't forget about RB Zach Line either. He rumbled for 1,391 yards and ten TDs. Finishing drives is a problem, though. Teams don't normally rank No. 34 in the land in total offense at 416.2 yards per game and only average 26.6 points per game in college football betting action. The defense was a lot more proportionate. The team ranked No. 60 in the country both in total 'D' (363.9 YPG) and scoring (26.4 PPG).
The Final Word: This might be a de facto home game for the Mustangs, but the Cadets are thrilled to be here. Army is going to have a decent shot at winning this game, especially if SMU is disappointed to be here instead of being in the Liberty Bowl. Steelman and the Black Knights should be able to at least keep this one within a TD, and it should be one of these down to the wire games. The Mustangs will pull off the victory, but they won't beat the Armed Forces Bowl odds.
Armed Forces Bowl Free Pick: Army +7.5
Armed Forces Bowl Prediction: SMU 27 – Army 24