Army Black Knights (6-5 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Navy Midshipmen (9-3 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)
College Football Week 15
Date/Time: Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 3PM EST
Where: MT&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: ARMY +7/NAVY -7
Over/Under Total: 52.5
The Army Black Knights meet the Navy Midshipmen on Sunday at MT&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in the 117th installment of the Army-Navy Game. Both teams were able to find success this season and it should be another competitive game, as Navy won by just 4 last season. The Midshipmen have been on a roll in this series, with Army last tasting victory in this game way back in 2001. But after a disastrous loss to Temple in the AAC title game on Saturday, Army isn't in a bad spot to break that streak.
Navy had the better season, getting to a conference title game. But while Army was resting their legs in anticipation of this game, Navy was getting torched by Temple, with key bodies hitting the floor at a very alarming rate. It was bad enough to lose by 24 as favorites, but what really cost them were injuries. Starting QB Will Worth suffered an ankle injury that will have him out for the rest of the season. They also lost back Darryl Bonner and Toneo Gulley for the season with injuries, as that pair comprises a lot of their overall output. The run-heavy Midshipmen lost a big chunk of their running prowess leading into this game. It's going to be difficult to replace Worth, whose play was key in getting Navy to the AAC title game. Some depth in the running corps could help losing two backs. But make no mistake, Saturday was a costly loss and Navy moves forward to this game and bowl season a heavily-depreciated team from what they were two weeks ago.
Coming into their game against Temple, Navy was rolling with 141 combined points in their last two wins. In addition to being 7-2 in conference, they were the first team to beat a highly-ranked Houston this season, adding wins against Notre Dame and Memphis this season. They entered the Temple game with 6 wins in their last 7, with the only loss a narrow one to resurgent South Florida. They are the third-best rushing team in the country, making what happened on Saturday all the more baffling and disconcerting. The loss took them out of the Cotton Bowl, cost them a conference title, and rendered them a diminished force moving forward. QB Zach Abey, who spelled Worth, will move forward as the starter. The big sophomore has shown talent and like Worth, has shown an ability to scoot with the ball. We'll see what he can come up with for Saturday.
The Navy defense has scored a few times this season, but hasn't been the most impactful group overall. Their pass-rush is pretty weak and they've secured only 13 turnovers on the season. Overall, they're the 86th-ranked defense in the country, a little better against the run than the pass, where they can be exploited. They've given up over 30 points per game on average, something that was hard to notice when they were putting up gobs of points, though it certainly showed against Temple. And they'll be put to the test against an Army offense that was second in the nation in rushing this season.
Army was 6-5 this season, following a run of five really bad losing seasons. They ran the heck out the ball this season and even played good defense at times to forge a pretty good season by their standards. They started the season strongly at 3-0, beating the AAC champs Temple, 28-13. They ended the season only 3-5 in their last eight games, but were far more of a handful than in recent seasons. With Navy in a compromised position, look for the Black Knights to be really gunning for the win and put an end to the recent Navy dominance.
Army's offense is one-dimensional. The passing-game led by QB Ahmad Bradshaw, is pretty much an afterthought, as Bradshaw has accumulated just over 600 passing yards on the season. He's the team's second-leading rusher with 646 yards. The leading rusher on the team is back Andy Davidson (questionable), who has 818 yards and 9 TDs. All told, they have eight players with 200 or more yards on the ground. Eleven different players have scored on the ground. Doing most of the damage aerially is Edgar Poe, who has 3 receiving scores. In their last game, albeit against FCS for Morgan State, Army ran for over 500 yards, with Davidson, with Cole Macek, and Darnell Woolfolk all over 100 yards on the ground.
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The Army defense has been pretty tough this season, ranked as the 5th best defense in the country. They have allowed just 19 points a game on average and their secondary and front have been really robust this season. Their pass-rush can make a difference and they've picked off 13 passes this season. They've given up 14 or fewer points this year on seven occasions. And in giving up just over 125 yards of rushing per game, they're looking to limit a banged-up Navy bunch this week.
This is a tough one. Navy has had the measure of Army in recent seasons. But Army is better this season than usual with their best squad in the past 5-6 years. Combine that with what happened to Navy personnel-wise last week, it's hard to rule out Army. The Black Knights have played with an edge this season and this might be their best shot to win this game in recent seasons. And if not, I like them to keep it close and notch the cover.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Army Black Knights plus 7 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Army vs. Navy game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!