Bowl Breakdown: Armed Forces
The Run-and-Shoot meets the triple-option when SMU faces Army
Army has lost 22 straight games against teams with a winning record
SMU will be playing in front of the hometown crowd in Dallas
SMU (7-6) vs. Army (6-6)
Dec. 30, Noon (ESPN)
Reason to watch: Two polar opposite offensive philosophies will be on display, as June Jones' Run-and-Shoot air attack meets Army's grounded triple-option. SMU throws the ball 62 percent of the time, while Army runs it 84 percent. If nothing else, the Black Knights should win the time of possession battle. Army is looking for its first winning record since 1996 (the last time the West Pointers made a bowl appearance), while SMU is seeking its second straight eight-win season.
Keep an eye on: SMU quarterback Kyle Padron. The sophomore took over the starting job halfway through last season and has begun the difficult task of mastering Jones' complex offense. Padron threw 29 touchdowns this season, including one in every game, and will be throwing to a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Aldrick Robinson and Cole Beasley. Jones worked wonders with Colt Brennan at Hawaii, so the nation will be catching a glimpse of a player who could put up video-game numbers in his third and fourth years under the Run-and-Shoot guru.
Did you know: Army has lost 22 straight games against teams carrying a winning record into the matchup, a streak that stretches back to 2005.
Final analysis: Each team has faced an opponent with a similar offensive philosophy this season. SMU lost to option-oriented Navy 28-21, while Army fell to Run-and-Shoot Hawaii 31-28. Those games should help both teams prepare for this meeting. Due to renovations at TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium, SMU will be playing this one on its home field in Dallas, where the Mustangs were 4-2 this season. Army will battle, but overcoming a sellout crowd and SMU's quick-strike attack may prove too difficult.
The pick: SMU 31, Army 17
SI.com NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline shares his thoughts on the top pro prospects in this matchup:
SMU: DL Margus Hunt* -- Hunt is one of the hidden gems in the scouting world. Coming to SMU from the nation of Estonia, Hunt's specialty was throwing the shot put and discus. He turned to football in 2009 and blocked a record seven kicks as a redshirt freshman. Hunt quickly transitioned to fulltime defensive lineman this season and registered 44 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. His upside is enormous and he will only get better with experience. Grade: Third-round prospect.
Army: OLB Josh McNary -- Of the players coming out of the three military academies in April, McNary is the top NFL prospect. He's an explosive pass-rushing end who led Army with 12 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. His size and speed dictate a move to outside linebacker at the next level once his military commitment is complete. Grade: Sixth- to seventh-round prospect.