Army Black Knights vs. Navy Midshipmen (+7)
Sat. 12/8, 3:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia, PA
Three things to know before betting on Army-Navy:
1. As college football fans and bettors eagerly await bowl season, they can tide themselves over with one of the sport's greatest traditions: the Army-Navy game. This year's contest at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field features an Army team that is the favorite for the first time since 2001. Prior to last year, Army had not posted double-digit wins since 1996. Now with a victory over Navy, the Black Knights could hit the 10-win mark for the second consecutive season. Army even took Oklahoma, one of this year's four College Football Playoff teams, to overtime in September. Meanwhile, at 3-9, the Midshipmen will finish with a losing record for the first time since 2002.
The momentum in this rivalry has been shifting in recent years. From 2002 through 2015, Navy won every game in this heated rivalry. But despite being an underdog, Army won outright each of the last two seasons. More importantly, the Knights have covered the spread in six of the past seven games against Navy.
2. Both teams feature stronger offenses than defenses. Navy has run the ball well, averaging 5.0 yards per carry (28th-best mark in the nation), but that hasn't been up to the Midshipmen's standards. It's their lowest mark this decade, and without a passing game to speak of, Navy averages only 5.38 yards per play, 94th in the country.
Army's offense actually averages fewer yards per play (5.28). But the key difference between these two offenses is that, when the Knights choose to pass, they do so incredibly effectively. The Knights average 10.5 yards per pass attempt, putting them behind only Alabama and Oklahoma. Navy's 7.8 yards per attempt ranks 45th. That discrepancy has helped Army average 30.8 points per game, while Navy has managed just 26.3.
3. This game will come down to defense. The Black Knights aren't completely shutting down opponents, allowing 5.91 yards per play (85th in FBS). But they've done enough, allowing only 18.7 points (17th nationally) and 15.5 first downs (sixth) per game. Holding the Sooners to a season-low 28 points showed how the Black Knights D can frustrate opponents.
Navy, on the other hand, can't stop anyone. Its yards allowed per play number (6.65) is the 11th-worst mark in the country, and the Midshipmen allow 34.9 points per game (22nd-worst mark). Given that this will be a grinding type of game, a seven-point line is pretty enormous here, but Army should still dominate enough to be the safer play here against the spread.
Pick: Army -7
Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)