Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney said he was bummed two years ago as he stood near midfield at Michie Stadium, even though the Falcons had just finished another big win over Army.
Air Force scored 34 points off five Army turnovers in the first half and won 43-7. Carney had predicted a 49-7 triumph, so he feigned disappointment the Falcons ``came up six points short.''
Cocky predictions by the Falcons shouldn't come as a surprise. Air Force (6-2) has won 10 of the past 11 meetings with Army (3-5), outscoring the Black Knights 370-157.
The teams meet again Saturday, and 44 Army seniors will be playing their final game at Michie Stadium, where they have yet to savor a victory over the Falcons. This time, the Black Knights won't have Carney to stoke their passion. He graduated in May.
han a 3-5 team. Our confidence is up and it's going to stay up. We need to keep our swagger and keep playing ball like we have the last couple of weeks.''
After starting the season with four straight losses, the Black Knights have become more accustomed to their new option attack and have won three of the last four games. The lone setback was an overtime loss two weeks ago at Buffalo, when Army squandered a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.
``They have been playing very well,'' second-year Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. ``You look throughout the entire month of October, they are 3-1 and frankly, they very well could be 4-0. I think the things that really stand out is just how physical they play up front on both sides of the ball - and certainly the big back.''
That would be fullback Collin Mooney, who leads Army with 874 yards and six touchdowns on 146 carries. Mooney was quiet in last week's 14-7 home win over Louisiana Tech with 57 yards on 17 carries, ending his academy-record streak of three straight games with at least 170 yards rushing.
``The fullback just doesn't have minus yardage plays,'' Calhoun said. ``He's always running forward, moving piles.''
28 carries, and 6-foot, 268-pound junior Geoffrey Hewitt is the third option.
``It's unbelievable,'' Calhoun said. ``I'm trying to think if I've ever seen anything close to that. They're bigger than anybody we've got.''
This is a big game for the Black Knights, who are trying to claim the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy outright for the first time since 1996. Navy holds the advantage in the competition for service-academy supremacy again this season by virtue of its 33-27 win at Air Force a month ago.
An Army win would eliminate the Falcons from contention and set up a winner-take-all scenario with Navy in the season finale Dec. 6 (the Midshipmen have been outright champs the past five years).
The Black Knights, 9-10 all-time against Air Force at Michie Stadium, are trying to remain on an even keel as they prepare for an option attack that's been more productive than theirs. The Falcons are averaging 291 yards rushing per game, fourth nationally.
``The emotions have to build and build and build, and then hit a peak at game time. Otherwise, you are just burning energy,'' Army coach Stan Brock said. ``Obviously, to beat another academy is huge. I don't think you need to put that kind of pressure on anybody, though.''
ise where your blood pressure isn't too high, either,'' said Calhoun, who starred at quarterback for the Falcons in the 1980s. ``There's a right balance that you have to find. These hit you well inside the thorax.''
After losing back-to-back home games to Utah and Navy, the Falcons have won three straight and received votes in this week's AP Top 25. They are coming off a victory against New Mexico, a game in which they rallied with 23 straight points after falling behind 10-0.
``We can play a lot better and we're going to have to,'' Calhoun said. ``We aren't a very good omelet if we only have ham. We're one of those squads where we need all the ingredients.''

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