There might not be many household names playing in the Army vs Navy game, but it’s still a great way to kick off betting on Bowl season.
120th Army vs Navy Meeting
This upcoming Saturday Afternoon, one of the longest-running rivalries in College Football is going down at Lincoln Financial Field between the Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen. In their 120th meeting, Army is favored by 10 points, which in reality seems like a small margin for a ranked program taking on a team with a losing record.
But as we all know, rivalry games are very volatile and can’t always be viewed so black and white. With both teams fielding such strong rushing offenses, anything can happen in this one. I wouldn’t expect a lot of points here despite the ground game as the last 15 times these teams met, the total has fallen under the closing line.
Despite not being the biggest schools in the nation when it comes to College Football, these teams rank 1st and 2nd in the country in rushing offense. The Midshipmen are 9-2 on the year, ranked 23rd and have their top-ranked ground attack to thank. Navy averages a whopping 360.8 yards rushing per game and have been bested only twice, losing to Notre Dame and Memphis.
The triple-option has a lot to do with these numbers and if executed well by Navy they should run all over Army. The Knights cough up 144 rushing yards per game and have not seen a rushing attack this strong all year. Quarterback Malcolm Perry has a confusing stat line for the position, leading the team with 1500 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. He is the centerpiece of this offense, despite throwing for only 15 touchdowns and 9 TDs with 3 interceptions. The biggest challenge Army faces is limiting his effectiveness, which is quite likely a task they aren’t up to.
Navy also runs out a pair of running backs to help with mixing up their ground attack. Jamele Carothers has 637 yards and 13 touchdowns while Nelson Smith, who is technically a fullback, has scampered for 557 yards and seven touchdowns on his own.
Perry also works primarily with a pair of receivers, Mychal Cooper and C.J. Williams. Cooper leads the team with 355 receiving yards and a pair of touchdown catches, he leads the team in both categories. Unfortunately for Navy, he was injured in November against SMU and hasn’t played since. The details of the injury have yet be disclosed and while he has not been officially ruled out Saturday, it’s highly probable he misses his 2nd straight game. Williams will see a lot of extra work as he looks to add to his 210 receiving yards on the year. They will also be looking to Ryan Mitchell, who has 178 yards on the year to help spread the field out and do some work in the air. With as little as the Midshipmen actually pass, the loss of Cooper should be minimal, but worth noting when capping this matchup.
Army brings its own version of the triple option and rushing attack who ranks 2nd only to Navy in the nation. They were off to a good start as well, going 3-1 early in the year before dropping five in a row. They now sit a 5-7 and are coming off a brutal loss to Hawaii. But any team which puts up so many yards on a weekly basis always has a chance to win.
Navy does allow 232 passing yards per game, and why Army also relies heavily on the triple option, they also have a competent passing game led by quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. The Senior has passed for 570 yards and four touchdowns on the season while running for 706 yards and seven TDs.
Another parallel between these two teams is their reliance on a pair of primary receivers. Things is, both of Army’s wideouts are actually playing in this game. Camden Harrison has 23 catches for 415 yards and three touchdowns while Article Hobbs IV has snagged 27 balls for 152 yards and a pair of TD catches.
Rounding of this very potent offense is their running backs who help ease the workload of Hopkins Jr. Senior Connor Slomka has totaled 637 yards on the ground with eight TDs/ Juniors Sandon McCoy and Kell Walker have combined for an additional 942 yards and 13 touchdowns on.
Taking a look at the betting trends for these two teams further cements Navy as a strong bet in this game. The Midshipmen are 8-0-1 against the college football spreads over their previous nine games and are coming off a game which saw them total 554 yards and beat Houston 56-41. Malcolm Perry accounted for 253 of those yards in what might have been his best game of the season. Navy is also 12-9 ATS as a favorite since 2017 and their defense ranks 17th in the country at stopping the run. This might prove to be the decisive stat in this game. While it’s unlikely they hold Army to 109.7 yards, Navy’s season average, the Knights will still struggle to move the ball against such a strong defensive front.
The Black Knights have gone 4-0-1 ATS in their previous five games on a neutral field, and also boast a competent rushing defense that allows 143.8 yards per game to opponents. The problem for them is, the defense just doesn’t have what it takes to hang with Navy. Sure, Army has been on a tear in the run game over their last three games, amassing over 1000 rushing yards against UMass and VMI and 411 yards and four touchdowns against Hawaii. The problem is, Hawaii is the only decent team of that trip and despite all those yards, the Black Knights still lost by 21 points.
I really like Navy in this spot and have no problem laying double digits. While Perry won’t have the easiest time with Army familiar with the system, they will still allow far too many yards against a ranked team. Navy is vulnerable through the air, but Army doesn’t have enough talent to sink the Midshipmen with that strategy either. The Black Knights will put up points, but it won’t be enough to keep Navy from covering 10 points on Saturday.
Best Bet: Navy Midshipmen -10 (-120)