Army Black Knights vs. Missouri Tigers
Line: Army -6.5
Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium
When: Wednesday, 12/22 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Army will be looking to reach the nine-win mark in consecutive seasons when it faces Missouri in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl tonight.
The Black Knights had their four-game winning streak snapped in an upset loss to Navy earlier this month, while Missouri won three of its final five games to become bowl eligible. These teams have not faced each other since 1982.
Army opened as a 3-point favorite on Dec. 5 before moving up to -3.5 in the following hours. There had been some consistent steam on the Black Knights since then, causing the line to tick up to -4.5.
Things really escalated on Tuesday morning when Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz announced that his star running back, Tyler Badie, will not be playing on Wednesday. Drinkwitz told reporters that it was his decision to sit Badie.
The betting market made an immediate correction, bumping the line from -4.5 to -6 and then -6.5 at most books. Wednesday’s total opened at 60.5 earlier this month, but it had plummeted to 54 as of this morning
Badie was Missouri’s best player this season, rushing for 1,604 yards and 14 touchdowns on 268 carries. He set the program’s single-season rushing record and earned multiple awards. Drinkwitz said senior running back Dawson Downing will make the start on Wednesday, despite having just 10 total carries for 83 yards this season.
The Tigers are also making a change at quarterback, choosing to roll with freshman Brady Cook over the season-long starter Connor Bazelak. Cook only attempted passes in two games this season, completing 14 of 19 attempts for 78 yards against Georgia in November. He will be facing an Army defense that ranks No. 14, allowing 319.7 yards per game.
The Black Knights bounced back from a three-game losing streak in October with wins in each of their next four games, but they came up short as 7-point favorites against Navy in their biggest game of the year. Army scored on a 56-yard touchdown run from quarterback Christian Anderson early in the first quarter, but Navy dominated defensively the rest of the way.
Anderson leads an offense that only threw 101 total passes this season. They rely on a rushing attack that ranks second in the country, averaging 286.4 yards per game. Running back Tyrell Robinson is averaging 9.1 yards per carry, while Anderson is the second-leading rusher and is notching 5.9 yards per attempt. Tyhier Tyler and Jakobi Buchanan have both chipped in more than 400 rushing yards as well.
They are facing a Missouri defense that ranked last in the SEC against the run, allowing 229.3 yards per game. The Tigers are going to be without starting defensive lineman Akial Byers and starting defensive back Martez Manuel.
Missouri covered the spread in just three of its 12 games this season and is 0-7 ATS in its last seven December games. Army has won 15 of its last 17 games as a favorite and finished 6-6 ATS this year.
The pick: Army -6 (-120)
This line continued to move on Tuesday afternoon, but I like Army at -6 so buy the half-point if necessary. Some bettors might be holding back based on the Black Knights’ performance against Navy, but that is virtually the only red flag in sight. Missouri was already going to be without a pair of starters on the defensive side—the Tigers are now resting their star running back and benching their starting quarterback. Army checks all of the boxes when it comes to motivational advantages, not to mention the ideal matchup for its rushing attack. It’s going to be tough for Missouri’s defense to get off the field. If/when the Tigers do get a stop, they won’t have much offensive firepower to work with. This spread could reach seven before this game kicks off—I love anything under that number.