Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Eastern in Baltimore, rivals Army and Navy will meet for the 117th time with the Midshipmen (9-3, 7-1 American) holding a 60-49-7 lead on the Black Knights (6-5 Independent). Navy has won the last 14 games in the series, most recently beating Army 31-24 in Philadelphia last December, with nine of those wins coming under Ken Niumatalolo. Army enters this game with a record above .500 for just the second time since 1995, and the odds have Jeff Monken’s team as the underdog.
According to OddsShark, Navy is anywhere from a four to five-point favorite, with the majority of the sports books at 4.5. That’s a far cry from where the line began, with Navy being listed as an 11.5-point favorite when betting for the game opened up. The sports books also have a listed point total of 47.5 points for today’s game. The starting point for the point total was 55.5, so bettors have hit the under hard since that initial number was listed.
Against the spread this season the Midshipmen are 7-4-1, with a record of 3-1-1 over their last five games with the lone defeat coming against Temple in the American Athletic Conference title game last weekend. However, when it comes to today’s game in Baltimore the Midshipmen are 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings with Army and the under has hit in all five games according to OddsShark’s numbers. As for Army, the Black Knights are 6-5 ATS this season and 2-3 ATS in their last five games.
OddsShark’s computers project a final score of Navy 32-29.8, which would keep with the recent trend in the series of the Midshipmen winning but not covering the spread.
Army enters this game better positioned to end their 14-game losing streak in the series than they’ve been in any game since 2010, when Rich Ellerson led the Black Knights into the game with a 6-5 record. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw and sophomore running backs Andy Davidson and Darnell Woolfolk lead the way for a team averaging 328.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks second nationally.
Ranked third nationally in rushing offense with an average of 327.5 yards per game are the Midshipmen, winners of nine games despite losing two quarterbacks (Tago Smith and Will Worth) to season-ending injuries. Army’s been better against the run this season, ranking 19th nationally with an average of 124.4 yards allowed per game with Navy 67th at 176.3 yards allowed per game.
The numbers certainly say that this is Army’s best shot at defeating its biggest rival in quite some time, but given how long the streak has been alive for it’s tough not to pick Navy. Look for the game to be close throughout, with the Midshipmen making the game’s decisive play late in the fourth quarter.
Heavy’s Pick: Navy 24, Army 21. Army +4, UNDER on the point total.