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Army Black Knights vs. Navy Midshipmen Point Spread - Pick

Army Black Knights (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Navy Midshipmen (6-5 SU, 5-4-2 ATS)
Army-Navy Game
Date/Time: Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 3PM EST
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TV: CBS

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: ARMY +3.5/NAVY -3.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5

The Army Black Knights face the Navy Midshipmen on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly. It's the 118th meeting of the two teams in the most historic rivalry in college football, having first played in 1890. Last season, Army broke a streak of 14 straight losses as they finally beat Navy, 21-17. Army, at 8-3, looks to make it two in a row on Saturday, while Navy looks to get back on the winning track. Army last played on November 18, when they saw a 6-game win streak broken by North Texas, 52-49. Navy last played on the 24th, losing at Houston, 24-14. After a 5-0 start, it was their fifth loss on 6 games, as the Midshipmen limped to the finish line at 6-5 after such a promising start.

Army was really on a nice roll until falling short to North Texas in their last game. North Texas is a good team and beat them by only 3 in a 52-49 shootout. The Army West Point Black Knights have been streaky this season, starting 2-0, before losing to Ohio State and Tulane to go to 2-2. Consecutive wins over UTEP, Rice, Eastern Michigan, Temple, Air Force, and Duke followed, before the close road-loss to N. Texas. Despite the late stumble, it has to be considered a good season for Army, who has really gotten their act together the last two seasons with head coach Jeff Monken. After a nice 8-win season and a win in this rivalry game in 2016, they look to make it 9 wins this season and repeat the win over Navy.

Seldom are things as stark as they are on the Army offense. They are the top rushing school in the nation, while being dead-last in passing offense. They run the ball to the tune of an average of 368 yards per game, while their quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw has season passing stats that look like another quarterback's stats from one game. Bradshaw makes up for it with his legs, leading the way with 1472 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Darnell Woolfolk adds a lot of spark, with 668 and 11 touchdowns. Kell Walker and Andy Davidson also add a lot of production, with a bunch of other guys having chipped in to what has been the most-run-heavy offense in the country. And with only two aerial touchdowns, passing is merely window dressing in this offense. In last season's big win over Navy, Bradshaw, Walker, Davidson, and Woolfolk all had nice production.

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Army's defense has shown some good balance this season. Only against Ohio State and in their last game against North Texas were they really exploited to any kind of tangible degree. Seven times this season opponents have been held to 21 or fewer points, with 21.6 points per game being their average point allowance. Alex Aukerman and John Voit have been able to maintain a steady pass-rush this season, with LB James Nachtigal also chipping in with quarterback pressure. Last season, they kept Navy scoreless in the first half, which was a big part of the win and they hope to duplicate that stoutness this time around.

It's been a tale of two seasons for the Midshipmen. Things were looking really good early, as Navy won their first five games. A three-point loss to Memphis was their first setback, before the losses started mounting. A 43-40 win over SMU broke up the streak, but it's been a rough way to end a season for a team that was showing some promise. But other than a 10-point loss to conference power UCF, all their losses were one-score affairs, including a 24-17 loss at Notre Dame on the 17th. So while they have cooled off considerably, they might not be as bad-off as their W-L results would indicate.

Navy is pretty drastic in how they apply their offense, slightly less-extreme than their opponents, but not by much. They have the second-best rushing attack in the nation, behind only Army. And aerially, they are the third-worst offense in the nation, out of 130 teams. The offense runs through QB Zach Abey, who has run for 1322 yards and 14 touchdowns, while also connecting on 7 TD throws. On the ground, they get a lot of help from Malcolm Perry and his 8 scores, along with Chris High and Anthony Gargiulo. And between Perry, Tyler Carmona, and Darryl Bonner, they can make some things happen aerially, though make no mistake, this is a running offense to its core. Last season in this matchup, the Navy offense was stymied, with Abey throwing two interceptions and the run-game contributing only 112 yards, with their average way over 300.

The Navy defense has not been a team strong-suit. They are giving up nearly 30 points a game. They ended the season is decent fashion, even if the team was losing. In the last two weeks, they gave up 24 points each to Notre Dame and Houston. But they have been exploitable a lot this season. That has especially been against more aerially-inclined teams so maybe they can fare better against the one-dimensional Army defense. Linebackers DJ Palmore and Micah Thomas are playmakers on this "D." For both defenses, having some time to get ready for this will probably help, as this will be a draining game for both units.

The Midshipmen certainly didn't have the season they were hoping for, especially after a 5-0 start. But Army might also be in that same spot if they had to play some of the teams Navy has faced. Even with five losses in their last 6 games, they weren't embarrassed and never appeared to be phoning it in. Still, Army should be able to match up well with Navy again this season in a game that looks like it will be really competitive and maybe up in the air late. I'll take the points.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Army Black Knights plus 3.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Army-Navy game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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