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Tale of The Tape: How Army and Air Force Measure Up

by Graham Knight

As we build up to the Commander’s Classic and the 2nd match-up in the Quest for the Commander in Chief’s Trophy, it’s time to take an even closer look at the match-up between Army and Air Force. And the closer you look the more you’ll see that both of these teams are very similar.

Both feature a run-first, triple-option style offense. Air Force is tops in the nation in rushing, averaging 318 yards per game. Army is just behind with a 312-yard per game average. In fact, they are the only two teams in the nation to average more than 300 rushing yards per game. The next closest is Ole Miss at 250 yards per contest.

Rushing Yards Per Game: National Rank:

Air Force: 318 1

Army 312 2


Running the ball means chewing up the clock. Army is tops in Time of Possession holding the ball an average of 38:00 per game. The Falcons are right behind in third at 36:00 per game.

Time of Possession/Game: National Rank:

Army 38:00 1

Air Force 36:00 3


Army is also in the top ten in 3rd down conversions at just over 50%, and they operate at 75% when it comes to 4th down conversions.

3rd Down Conversions: National Rank:

Army 50.5% 6

Air Force 75% 9-t


Both teams know how to hold onto the ball. Army and Air Force each have only lost 3 fumbles all season. The Falcons have only thrown 2 picks, while the Black Knights have thrown just 3, both among the fewest in the nation.

Interceptions Thrown: National Rank:

Air Force 2 2

Army 3 9-t


Needless to say, neither team throws the ball a lot, and thus their passing offenses are ranked among the lowest in college football. In fact, Army & Air Force are two of the three worst in college football. Army is averaging just 88 yards per game while Air Force averages just 78 yards per game through the air.

Passing Yards per Game: National Rank:

Army 88 128

Air Force 78 129


(By the way, Navy comes in dead last in all of college football in passing offense.)


When it comes to scoring offense, the Black Knights are averaging nearly 35 points per game, the Falcons, just under 30.

Points Per Game:

Army 34.6

Air Force 29.2


On defense, the Falcons have shone, giving up an average of only 281 yards per game. That’s third best in the FBS. Army is giving up 332 yards a game, skewed a bit by the loss to Wake Forest.

Total Defense Yards/Game: National Rank:

Air Force 281.4 3

Army 332 31


And both teams boast stout rushing defenses, giving up less than 100 yards per game. Army is 7th, and the Falcons are 13th.

Rushing Yards Allowed/Game National Rank:

Army 92.6 7

Air Force 99.5 13


Air Force is also 7th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing less than 17 points per game. Army is in the middle of the pack in that category, at just under 28 points per game.

Points Allowed/Game: National Rank:

Air Force: 16.75 7

Army 27.7 79


Both squads are near the top in allowing the fewest first downs. Army is tied 3rd, while Air Force is 4th.

1st Downs Allowed: National Rank:

Army 110 3

Air Force 111 4


As you can imagine, the service academies tend to be extremely disciplined; that’s why they’re near the top in fewest penalties. The Black Knights have committed the fewest penalties in college football, just 28 in 7 games, Air Force just 32 in 8 games.

Penalties Against: National Rank:

Army 28 1

Air Force 32 5-t


The Commanders' Classic will also feature some standout players:

  • Army Linebacker Andre Carter is third in the nation in sacks with 8.5. He’s also tied for 11th in tackles for loss.

  • Falcons Linebacker Vince Sanford has 6.5 sacks on the season, tied for 15th.

  • Air Force strong safety Corvan Taylor has 3 interceptions on the year. That’s tied for 9th in the FBS.

On offense, Air Force has two players that have shone:

  • Fullback Brad Roberts is 15th in the nation in rushing with 845 yards. He has also scored 8 touchdowns this season.

  • Quarterback Haaziq Daniels has scored 9-TD’s and is tied for 25th in the country.


As you can see, these two teams line up nicely for their match-up in Arlington, Texas.


(All stats and rankings listed are as of 11/2/2021.)


edited for web by Joe Harman