Army Black Knights vs. Navy Midshipmen
Line: Army -7
Where: MetLife Stadium
When: Saturday, 12/11 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Army has an opportunity to beat Navy for the fifth time in the past six years when they square off for the 122nd time in their historic rivalry on Saturday afternoon.
The Black Knights can also win their fourth Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in the last six years. Oddsmakers opened Army as an 8-point favorite before the early betting action pushed the number down to the current price at seven.
The biggest storyline in the betting community is the total, though. Army and Navy have now cashed the ‘under’ in 15 consecutive games, combining for just 34.1 points per game during that stretch. They went well ‘under’ the closing total of 36 last season, as Army covered the 7.5-point spread in a 15-0 final.
This year’s total opened at 35 and was quickly bet up to 36.5. However, the betting action has come back even heavier on the ‘under,’ dropping the total to 34.5 as of Thursday afternoon. This is set to be the lowest over-under in the history of the rivalry.
Army has already accepted a bowl bid with an 8-3 season, as it will face Missouri in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Black Knights have now made a bowl appearance five times in six years under head coach Jeff Monken. They got off to a 4-0 start this season before losing three straight games, but they recovered with a four-game winning streak down the stretch.
Their defense allowed less than 15 points per game over the final four games after allowing 70 points against Wake Forest. They ranked No. 16 in the country in total yards allowed and were No. 11 against the run.
Army’s rushing attack ranks second behind Air Force, averaging 301.2 yards per game. The Black Knights have four players who have rushed for at least 400 yards, led by running back Tyrell Robinson. He is averaging 9.9 yards per carry on 59 attempts.
Quarterback Christian Anderson is the second-leading rusher, tallying 519 yards and six touchdowns on 91 carries. Anderson has only thrown 44 passes, completing 21 of them for 545 yards and five touchdowns. He will be facing a Navy defense that is No. 45 in college football, allowing 359.2 yards per game.
The Midshipmen employ a similar offensive attack, led by a ground game that ranks seventh in yards per game (228.2). Fullback Isaac Ruoss leads the team with 608 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while fullback Carlinos Acie has rushed for 546 yards on 57 carries. Acie rushed for 86 yards against Temple after putting up a career-high 155 yards against East Carolina.
Quarterback Tai Lavatai has completed 30 of his 55 pass attempts for 367 yards and five touchdowns. He has added 150 carries for 309 yards, averaging just 2.1 yards per carry.
Navy has covered the spread in six of its last eight games as an underdog and is 4-1 ATS in its last five games overall. Army is 4-2 ATS in its last six games and has covered in five of the last seven head-to-head meetings between these teams.
The pick: Over 34.5
Gone are the days of the Army-Navy total being in the 50s, which is where it was every year from 2010-2015. This about as contrarian of a pick as it gets, with the ‘under’ cashing 15 straight years. However, it’s all about the number. The total would have gone ‘over’ in eight of those 15 games at this year’s number. Army also has one of its best offenses in recent memory, scoring at least 30 points in seven of its 11 games. The Black Knights could come close to cashing the ‘over’ on their own, making this a strong play despite the trend in the opposite direction.