Army brings 10-game win streak to No. 7 Michigan

Field Level Media

September 03, 2019 at 7:18 pm.

The way Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh describes his opponent on Saturday, it seems as if he’s talking about a Top 25 team.

If Army upsets the No. 7 Wolverines in Ann Arbor, that could become a reality. The Black Knights have won 10 straight games, including a 14-7, grind-it-out victory over Rice in their season opener last week.

“It’s a great challenge,” Harbaugh said. “They’re a heck of a football team, 11-2 last year, won their opener, won their bowl game by a lopsided margin and have a unique style of offense which is very, very effective. So, we’re kind of excited to play the game for the challenge of it. Historically, they are 5-4 ahead of us. So, we would like to even that up.”

Army’s flexbone triple option can give fits to opposing defenses who are not used to seeing that scheme. Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown has been preparing for months, according to Harbaugh.

“This is something that has been on our mind a long time,” he said. “We’ve been preparing for it, as I said before, all Don’s extra time, he’s created time and now it’s almost every day going back to spring practice. Not taking away time preparing for league games and the opener, but creating extra time. And now full-time this week preparing for Army.”

The Black Knights gave then No. 5 Oklahoma a huge scare last Sept. 22, taking the Sooners to overtime. They haven’t lost since that day, including a 70-14 dismantling of Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Michigan tuned up with a 40-21 win over Middle Tennessee State on Saturday night. Harbaugh was impressed with the rushing attack, which produced 233 yards in 45 carries and two scores. He was especially pleased with freshman tailback Zach Charbonnet, who scampered for 90 yards in eight carries.

“When he decides to hit a hole, he hits it,” Harbaugh said. “He’s through it and out the other end. Catches the ball really well, as well. It’s great to see.”

Harbaugh used both Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey at quarterback but Patterson got the bulk of the snaps. Patterson passed for 203 yards and three touchdowns. His main issue was ball protection, as he fumbled twice with one recovered by Middle Tennessee.

“Shea was able to make some big plays, get some big chunk-yardage throws,” Harbaugh said. “The ball-handling is being addressed, ball security, et cetera. Same with Dylan, he came in there and made a big play as well. Both really ran the offense efficiently.”

Big play wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who missed the game with a foot injury, could return this week for Michigan.

The Black Knights averaged 4.1 yards per carry against Rice. They needed a 17-yard touchdown pass from Kelvin Hopkins Jr. to Kell Walker, finishing off a 96-yard drive, with under four minutes left to secure the win.

Hopkins Jr. led the rushing offense with 80 yards on 21 carries.

“Knocking the rust off had nothing to do with it,” coach Jeff Monken said. “We have a lot of guys nobody wanted. It’s not like we’re busting at the seams with All-Americans.”

That hasn’t stopped Army from scaring and even defeating teams with plenty of them.

“It’s an opportunity to measure ourselves against the very best in college football,” he said. “It’s a privilege to play teams like this.”