Army, which has an eight-game winning streak since its overtime loss at playoff team Oklahoma, can finish with 11 wins for the first time in program history. The Black Knights have also won their last three bowl games, including last year’s Armed Forces Bowl. Houston, which will be without injured quarterback D’Eriq King and NFL draft-prepping defensive tackle Ed Oliver, has lost three of its four games since a 7-1 start.
Army’s triple-option rushing game against Houston’s defense made more porous without Oliver, who missed four games because of a bruised right knee and decided to skip to the bowl to focus on the NFL draft. The Black Knights led the nation in rushing last season and are second this year with 296 yards per game. The Cougars are 98th among FBS teams in rushing defense, allowing 197 yards per game. Five of the last six opponents have run for more than 200 yards, including Navy’s 344.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Houston: Sophomore receiver Marquez Stevenson has 67 catches for 947 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the American Athletic Conference with five 100-yard receiving games.
Army: Kelvin Hopkins Jr. is the team’s leading passer and rusher. The junior quarterback has run for 847 yards and 12 touchdowns, and thrown for 956 yards and six scores. He is 44 yards shy of Army’s first 1,000-yard passing season since Carson Williams in 2007.
The winner will be the first three-time Armed Forces Bowl champion. Houston won in 2008 and 2014, while Army won last year and in 2010. … The Cougars are fourth nationally scoring 46.4 points per game. …. Army has 956 yards passing in 12 games after only 361 yards in 13 games last year. … Houston’s current senior class has 37 wins, and needs to win Friday to match the 2016 senior class for the most in school history. … The only common opponent was Navy — Houston beat the Midshipmen 49-36; Army beat them 17-10. … The Black Knights are 31-of-36 (86 percent) on fourth-down conversions.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25