Spread: Army -6.5
Moneyline: Army -325; Navy +250
*Odds via FanDuel.com
Normally, the annual Army-Navy game is the last regular-season college football game of the year. But with the coronavirus wreaking havoc on schedules and getting everyone off to slow starts, that is not going to be the case this year.
That is not the only change the virus caused—someone is going to have home-field advantage this year. Traditionally, the game is played at a neutral site (usually Philadelphia). But because of attendance limitations at outdoor events in Philadelphia, the two schools decided to play elsewhere.
So, for the first time in 77 years and for only the fourth time in the rivalry’s history, the game will be played on the West Point campus at Michie Stadium. Fans will not be in attendance, but Navy’s Brigade of Midshipmen will be, as will Army’s Corp of Cadets.
Last season saw Navy (who leads the series, 61-52-7) win in convincing fashion, 31-7, breaking Army’s win streak at three games. However, with how Navy has struggled this year, they may have a hard time starting a streak of their own and winning again.
Army, of course, would love nothing more than to win their fourth in five years. But when it comes to rivalries such as this, records mean nothing.
With the triple-option offense Navy runs, the Midshipmen typically have one of the nation’s best rushing attacks. But that is not the case this season. While they finished first in the country last year with 300+ yards a game, they are not even cracking 200 yards a game this season (185.3; 46th).
That is probably why they are throwing the ball a little more than usual. But they are only averaging about 107 yards a game—so they are not throwing that much.
Part of the problem could be the inconsistency at quarterback. Navy has used five this season. Last week, freshman Xavier Arline got his first start in a loss to Tulsa.
He will get his second this week against Army’s seventh-ranked pass defense.
A strong defense is the other hallmark of the typically Navy team, but the Midshipmen have been struggling on that end of the ball as well. They are allowing over 400 yards and 32.0 points a game. As for their run defense—it is ranked a dismal 109th this year and giving up 200+ yards a game.
Army Black Knights
Like Navy, Army likes to run the triple option and is often one of the most productive rushing attacks in the nation. With 296.7 yards a game on the ground this season, Army has the third-best run game in the country.
When you run the ball that well, you do not even think about throwing it, which the Black Knights rarely do. On the season, the team’s quarterbacks (due to injuries, there have been six) have attempted just 67 passes, completing 29.
While the Navy is going to have their hands full against Army’s run game, the defense will cause even more problems. The Army defense is one of the best in the country this year (fourth in total yards; 23rd against the run and seventh against the pass).
So, not only will Army be tough to get off the field, but it will also be challenging for Navy’s offense to stay on the field.
Navy has played better in recent weeks, but this one looks like an easy win for Army. Navy struggles to run the ball and stop other teams from running it. Army excels at preventing opponents from moving the ball on the ground and running it themselves.
Look for Army to pound the ball down Navy’s throat all day long. It would not be surprising if the Black Knights did not throw a pass. Take Army to win, straight up and ATS. As for the over/under, the under is 15-2 in the last 17 games between these two teams. Take the under.
Travis’ Best Bet: Army -6.5, UNDER 37.5
For now, we do not know who Army is going to start at quarterback. That and the chance Army does not pass against Navy make the under for Christian Anderson’s passing yards total (24.5) the better bet. When he has thrown the ball, he has covered the over (three of five games). But he did not play against Georgia Southern, and there is no telling if or how much he will play against Navy.
Army running back Tyrell Robinson has not been a significant factor in the run game for the last five games. It is hard to trust he’ll get enough carries to cover the over for his rushing total (29.5). Take the under.
But Jakobi Buchanan is going to be used to pound on the Navy defense and wear them down. He’ll get the carries he needs to cover his rushing yard total (58.5). Take the over.
As for Navy, Tyger Goslin has appeared in four games and does not seem to factor into Navy’s plans much (if at all). It is doubtful he covers the over on his passing yards total (79.5). Jamale Carothers has not gained more than 13 yards in his last four games. He will not cover the over on his rushing yard total (32.5).
While Nelson Smith only gained 33 yards against Tulsa, he gained 100+ in three of the previous five. Take him to cover the over on his rushing total (58.5).