Army vs Navy
This Saturday the Navy Midshipmen and Army Midshipmen will conclude the 2012 college football regular season in a huge rivalry matchup between two of our service academies. The game will be played at Lincoln Financial Field (Home of the Philadelphia Eagles). Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 EST and will be televised nationally on CBS. Oddsmakers currently have Navy listed as a 7-points favorite with the total set at 58 points.
Why Army Will Cover:
It’s been a difficult season for the Black Knights. In their most recent game they were embarrassed 32-63 at home against Temple on Nov. 17. That loss dropped their overall record to 2-9. Army enters with a miserable 3-8 mark ATS and have failed to cover the number in five of their last six. However, the one game they covered was a 41-21 blowout win over Air Force as a 7-point underdog.
Army hasn’t won a single game in this series since a 26-17 victory back in 2001, but they have covered in two of the last three. The Black Knights weren’t expected to put up much of a fight last year, but wound up losing 21-27 as a 7-point dog. Army had just a 3-8 overall record coming into that game.
The thing you have to realize is these service academies all play a very similar style of football that revolves around an option-based rushing attack. While it can be extremely hard for opposing teams to prepare for this style of play, these teams go up against it every day in practice. This is why so many of these rivalry games can’t be based off statistics as they typically are much closer than expected.
While the Midshipmen will be headed to the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl to face off against Arizona State on Dec. 29, this is Army’s bowl game so to speak. They have had three weeks to prepare and their entire season would be considered a success if they are able to put an end to their losing streak against Navy. While they might not be able to finish ahead on the scoreboard, it’s hard to not like their chances of keeping this game within a touchdown and covering the spread.
Why Navy Will Cover:
The Midshipmen come into this game having won six of their last seven games and have looked like a completely different team since Keenan Reynolds took over at quarterback. While Navy had a stretch of games where they covered the spread in four of six games, they come in having lost three straight. That might actually be a good thing for those looking to back the Midshipmen. They are an impressive 41-18 ATS in road games after 1 ore more consecutive losses against the spread.
A lot of people are going to look at last year’s game an find themselves taking the points, but it really wasn’t all that surprising to see Army keep it close. The Midshipmen had just a 4-7 overall record last year. This year’s squad is much better than the one that squeaked out a win against the Black Knights, while Army’s roster is not nearly as good as it was a season ago.
While most of the focus will be on these two teams ability to run the football, I think this game could be decided by a few big plays in the passing game. Both teams rank near the bottom of the FBS is passing yards/game, but Navy is averaging 108.6 ypg through air. It might not seem like much, but its only the third time in the last 8 seasons that they have been over the century mark. In each of those two previous seasons where they averaged over 100 yards, they beat the Black Knights easily. They won 31-17 in 2010 and 42-23 in 2005.