For all the travails about college football, on one Saturday in December, there is a purity and innocence about the sport when the Navy and Army do battle on the gridiron.
Even people that only casually watch football, even today, there are enough sports fans that will tune in for a while to at least catch a few minutes, a half, or the final quarter of the Army/Navy clash. Does it draw big numbers like a marquee matchup from the Big Ten or SEC? No, but this game has its own subtle charm and the amount of trash talking or finger-pointing is almost nil.
As this writer once was told by his best friend in life, “When Army and Navy play, you know it will be a well-disciplined game.” That might not be true in the football sense, yet, is certainly true in how each team will handle itself with its old school value system.
Navy Midshipmen vs. Army Black Knights
Saturday, December 11, 2021 – 03:00 PM EST at MetLife Stadium
For those of us who study the betting odds, we have reasons to follow besides the charm of the contest and BetMGM has Army as a 7.5-point favorite with a total of 34.
Navy Tries to Salvage a Positive From Another Dismal Campaign
After years of success under coach Ken Niumatalolo, the Navy has suffered its second straight losing season and three in the past four. The biggest change for Midshipmen is they have not had the quarterback play of the past in running their option offense.
The QB position lacks the runner and field general of past editions and though the offense is hardly pass-happy, averaging less than 55 yards a game is a problem for the Navy unless they are averaging over 300 YPG on the ground like the Air Force and Army. (Navy averages 229.3 YPG rushing)
At least the Middies are competitive with a point spread involved at 7-2 ATS, after an 0-2 spread start. Upsetting the Army at least puts a bow on a mediocre 3-8 year.
Army Looks to Add to Recent Success Over Navy
All military football programs need a football coach who can thrive in the rigid culture and cultivate individuals. Jeff Monken figured it out and Army is going to its fifth bowl game in six years. With a victory over the Navy, the Black Knights of the Hudson are in a position to have their third double-digit win season in four years.
Besides a super 8-3 season, Army has locked up the Commander-in-Chief trophy for a second consecutive year.
What Monken built on besides a better version of the option offense, is a defense that tackles exceptionally well and runs to the ball. Because the secondary lacks speed and quickness, and there are no stud pass rushers, Army is going to have issues with teams like Wake Forest and Western Kentucky (this season) that can expose those problem areas.
Yet, take away the 70 points allowed to the Demon Deacons (Army scored 56 by the way) and the Black Knights only conceded 18.1 PPG to 10 other foes.
Thankfully for sportsbooks, games among the Army, Navy, and Air Force are not heavily bet games. Yet, even casual football bettors are making small to medium wagers on totals when military schools meet because, since 2005, the Under is cashing at around an 80% rate.
Sportsbooks seemingly cannot find a number low enough and the opening number of 35 is the lowest in 29 years when it closed at 34 points, which is a real possibility for this year’s matchup.
It’s a matter of how low can you go?
Who Covers the Number?
Despite the Navy’s quality ATS record, Army will not be lax like the AAC’s top teams Cincinnati, Houston and SMU were in failing to cover versus the Middies.
The Black Knights have won four of five (3-2 ATS) after losing 14 in a row to the Navy, as their superior run game and defense provide the difference.
NCAAF Pick: Army -7.5 (-110) at BetMGM