Army Breaks Golden Rule and Misses Golden Chance In Loss to Michigan

Critical interception haunts Army's effort to score first win over top-10 since 1963

My worst nightmare experience in high school started day one, as a freshman, walking into first period Algebra taught by Mrs. Dunham.

I had heard about “Dunham” for years, going back to elementary school, and it was no joke.

Mrs. Dunham was a dragon lady and the reason I ultimately became a sports writer (thank you?).

I had no shot, that early, as if the switch from addition and subtraction to alphabet math wasn’t going to be hard enough.

The grade I recorded first semester was deserved and remains the only “D” I’ve ever received on a report card.

But here’s the thing: I was thinking about Mrs. Dunham watching Army play at Michigan on Saturday in Ann Arbor.

If Mrs. Dunham drilled anything into my head it was the solemn Algebra commandment she barked at us every day:

Thou shalt NOT divide by zero!

Army is one of my favorite teams in college football because it normally sticks true to its axioms. Army wins by controlling the ball and the clock with a methodical option attack that can only be admired.

Last week, Army scored two touchdowns to defeat Rice. The two drives consumed 34 plays and almost 19 minutes on the clock.

Army, though, needs a Mrs. Dunham on the sideline to pound this worn-but-true axiom into its head.

Thou shalt NOT pass the ball.

Army was up 14-7, third quarter, third and goal at the Michigan five and primely positioned to secure its first win over a top-10 opponent since defeating No. 9 Penn State in 1963.

Army then did the one thing it should never do: it passed the ball. That pass was intercepted and led to Michigan tying the game, 14-14, and winning in double overtime (24-21).

The loss was cinched with a strip-sack fumble in the second OT... another Army pass attempt.

Thou shalt NOT pass.

In 2017, Army defeated Air Force without attempting a pass. Last year, the Cadets won in 2OT against Miami of Ohio without completing a pass.

​Army’s horrible axiom cramp undercut an otherwise brilliant game-plan to defeat No. 7 Michigan. That decision helped cover Jim Harbaugh’s decision to turn down a chip shot field goal that would have put his team up, 17-14, in the fourth quarter.

Michigan was stopped on fourth down and had to sweat out an ending that witnessed Army kicker Cole Talley missing a 50-yard attempt at the end of regulation.

Army's loss comes almost a year after losing in overtime last season at Oklahoma.

Harbaugh escaped, like Houdini, a defeat that could have haunted his must-win season in Ann Arbor.

Oklahoma recovered from the Army close call, last year, to make the College Football Playoff.

Of course, Oklahoma had Kyler Murray at quarterback.

Long Day's Journey

By my count I started watching college football at 9 a.m. on Saturday and, due to a weather delay between Cal and Washington, will be watching until 9 a.m. on Sunday...

By my count Rankman & Son went 4-1-1 in their weekly Pick Six choices and stand 7-3-2 after two weeks...

By my count USC and LSU, two mirror programs that have gone from power-formations to Air Raid offenses, were the stars of the day. The Trojans and Tigers each scored 45 points in victories over ranked opponents (Stanford and Texas). The quarterbacks, Kedon Slovis and Joe Burrow, combined to complete 59 of 72 passes for 848 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception...

By my count USC has found a jewel in true freshman Kedon Slovis, who sounds more like a medical condition than a quarterback. By my count USC is 2-0 after a 45-20 win over Stanford and will be ranked borderline top-five nationally if it gets to 6-0 with an upcoming slog that includes at BYU, Utah, at Washington and at Notre Dame...By my count that gets Clay Helton off the "hot seat" unless he losses at BYU next week...

By my count UCLA was in trouble hours before kicking off against San Diego State at the Rose Bowl. UCLA was in trouble after Ohio State rolled up on Cincinnati, 42-0. Cincinnati defeated UCLA last week...

By my count San Diego State’s 23-14 win over UCLA on Saturday improved the Aztecs’ all-time record against the Bruins to 1-21-1. Chip Kelly is now 0-2 this season, 3-11 overall at UCLA, about to become 3-12 with Oklahoma coming to town next week...

By my count UCLA started 0-5 last season and could match that mark considering, after Oklahoma, the Bruins open Pac 12 play with road games at Washington State and Arizona. By my count UCLA’s first win will come Oct. 5 against Oregon State…

By my count Tennessee is 0-2 for the first time since 1988, Miami is 0-2 for the first time since 1978 and Mack Brown is 2-0 with a North Carolina team that finished 2-9 in 2018. By my count that makes Mack the two-week coach-of-the year...

By my count a tossed interception in the opponents' end zone cost Fresno State a chance to win last year's game at Minnesota, last night's home game against Minnesota and last week's game at USC...By my count it was the same Minnesota defensive back both years (Antoine Winfield Jr.)...

By my count Rutgers was shut out Saturday for the 48th time in program history...

By my count eight of those shutouts have come since the school joined the Big Ten in 2014…

By my count the cumulative score in those shutouts has been 389-0. Here are the Big Ten shutout defeats by year:

2014: 0-37 (Wisconsin)

2016: 0-58 (Ohio State), 0-78 (Michigan), 0-49 (Michigan State), 0-39 (Penn State).

2017: 0-56 (Ohio State), 0-41 (Indiana)

2019: 0-30 (Iowa).

By my count Rutgers suffered its first shutout on Nov. 13, 1869, 0-8 to Princeton, one week after Rutgers defeated Princeton, 6-4, in the first college football game ever played...

By my count Wisconsin has shut out its first two opponents this season, South Florida and Central Michigan, by the score of 110-0…

By my count Herb Gould’s Badgers probably deserve to be ranked in Rankman’s weekly rankings next week…

By my count Clemson has now outscored its last two SEC West opponents by the score of 68-21…

By my count the coaches of those defeated schools, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M, will collectively earn $15.8 million this season…

By my count that makes Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney’s 10-year, $92 million deal, a bargain…

By my count Boise State’s 14-7 win over Marshall on Friday night has to be put in context. Boise was playing on a short week less than one week after an emotional cross-country win at Florida State…

By my count Alabama has not played a nonconference road game since winning at Penn State in 2011. By my count Joe Paterno was Penn State’s coach and he is now dead...

By my count Alabama’s nonconference schedule this season of Duke, New Mexico State, Southern Miss and Western Carolina is an embarrassment…

“Why don’t you start calling around and get somebody to play us?” Saban responded after Saturday’s 62-10 win over New Mexico State. “We’ll play anybody you get to play us.”

By my count Alabama may be the least-seen greatest program of the last decade because the Tide play only four games every year worth watching…

Comments (3)
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Bcorig
Bcorig

San Diego State’s 23-14 win over UCLA on Saturday “improved the Aztecs’ all-time record against the Bruins to 1-21-1.” I can’t stop laughing

541thamilton
541thamilton

By my count, Michigan doesn't pass "the eyeball test". LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson and Ohio State are all better on both sides of the ball.