Every year one of the most highly anticipated games in college football is the Army-Navy matchup. This will be the 118th meeting between the service academies, and for the ninth straight season it will take center stage as the only FBS game played this weekend.
Both Army and Navy have already clinched a bowl bid and both schools knocked off Air Force this season. That means the winner will lock up the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy when these schools meet on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
College Football Betting Odds
The Midshipmen had the longest winning streak ever in this series until last year. Navy had won 14 straight meetings between 2002 and 2015, but Army was able to stun Navy in 2016 and cadets everywhere erupted.
Army’s defense was the catalyst for this victory. The Black Knights held Navy to just 201 total yards and the Midshipmen could only muster eight first downs in the defeat. Navy turned the ball over twice and held the ball for less than 20 minutes. It was a little surprising it was only a 21-17 defeat with those numbers.
Zach Abey struggled as the pivot man for the Midshipmen, as he was put in a very tough spot. He was third on the depth chart coming into the season, but injuries to the two quarterbacks ahead of him thrust him into the starting lineup. Abey only became the starter a couple games before this one and didn’t look that comfortable running the triple option.
He has been the starter all season in 2017 and should perform much better this time. Abey ran for over 100 yards in each of his first seven games this year, but he was shut down in three straight road contests, all of which were Navy losses.
Keep an Eye On…
Ahmad Bradshaw has been fantastic in helping lead Army to its best season in quite some time. He is leading this team in rushing by a country mile and has been an excellent decision maker in his third year of running the option. He has run for almost 1,500 yards and has found the end zone 11 times. In two of his last three starts, he has held on to the ball more and surpassed 240 yards against Air Force and North Texas.
You need an athletic quarterback that can make the right read when using a triple option and Bradshaw is certainly that. This is his third year as Army’s starting quarterback and he rarely makes a mistake. Amazingly, he has yet to be sacked this year. He is a huge reason why the Black Knights have turned things around.
The one knock on Bradshaw is that he has regressed as a passer. He is only completing 30.8 percent of his passes and his averages are way down, too. Army is not a passing team at all but there’s not even a little bit of a threat if he drops back to pass.
The under has been an amazing bet in this series. Each of the last 11 meetings between Army and Navy have gone below the total, so it was no surprise to see bettors jump on the under again. This total opened at 50, but it has plunged down to 46 as of this post.
We know what to expect in this game. Both teams will keep the ball on the ground for virtually its entirety with each hoping to out-option the other. Since both sides are familiar with the option, that also makes it very easy for defenses to prepare. They know they must play assignment football in order to succeed and that goes right in line with their training as future soldiers.
The under is the best bet in this game, even at four points lower than when it opened. For a side, I like Army. Navy collapsed after a 5-0 start, losing five of its last six to end the season. Meanwhile, the Black Knights looked strong throughout the year and Bill Connelly’s metrics have them as the better team. Go Army! Beat Navy!
Pick: Under 46