Navy vs. Army NCAAF Top Picks: The Ultimate Battle of the Trenches

Daba Fofana Navy Midshipmen Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Daba Fofana #45 of the Navy Midshipmen rushes the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Greg Fiume/Getty Images/AFP.

The Army-Navy Game (or Navy-Army Game, depending on your worldview) is in contention for the best rivalry in college sports. Regardless of the competitiveness in the game, every year is celebrated as the official end of the regular season.

This matchup is as traditional as football gets. In a world where quarterbacks throw for five touchdowns a game and receivers are going in the top 10 of the NFL Draft, this game will see two teams run the ball more than any other.

Every play will be three yards and a cloud of dust. Passes will only be thrown on trick plays or impossibly long third downs. This will be a battle in the trenches, and the toughest team will come out on top.

This is looking to be an incredibly close game, so what can we expect from each team? Here are some key details and predictions for the most historic rivalry in college sports.

Navy Midshipmen vs. Army Black Knights

Saturday, December 10, 2022 – 03:00 PM EST at Lincoln Financial Field

A Brief History Lesson

The first matchup between these two academies was in 1890. This will be the 121st game between Army and Navy, with Navy having 9 more wins. This game has been played in a variety of venues, from Yankee Stadium to Polo Grounds to Metlife Stadium.

Points are usually a luxury in this rivalry. We’ve seen more 3-0 wins than 50-point games over the last 100 years. In fact, it is quite common for one team to put up zero points in a game, with the most recent occurrence happening in 2020.

The beauty of this rivalry is that it goes beyond two colleges. Veterans of each military branch in this rivalry are invested, and family members pick the side that aligns with the service of their relatives.

You might not have a strong opinion for the Iron Bowl or the Apple Cup or the Egg Bowl unless you are a fan of those schools, but you probably have one for this game. That’s what gives it value, and that’s what makes this rivalry so fun.

Will Weather Be a Factor?

Weather forecasts usually don’t matter in college football because the best teams play in the south and the weather is not cold enough to matter yet. However, we’ve gotten some aesthetically pleasing weather games in this matchup. We’ve seen crazy snow and rainstorms that turn the field into mud.

This matters even more when you have two teams who hate to run the ball. If the game gets sloppy, the run game will be massive.

However, this game will be in the 40s with minimal rain. The wind might play a factor, but this won’t be a snowstorm or a hurricane.

For Army-Navy Game standards, this is practically a heat wave. This speaks to the Over hitting at the best sportsbooks.

Keys for Each Team

Since both teams play a similar style of football, the keys for this game are mirrored. This rivalry matchup will be won by a few key moments. Those will be:

• Turnovers

• Explosive plays in the run game

• Passing conversions

• Third downs

In games this low-scoring, the game will be won in the margins. Tiny plays have massive impacts. The team that does the little things well and capitalizes on the few mistakes will emerge victorious.

Now, which team is more likely to make those kinds of plays? Here are our official college football picks for the Army-Navy Game.

Picks and Predictions

These teams have identical turnover margins. The penalties are minimal. Army has a better scoring offense, but Navy gives up fewer yards per game. This should be the closest matchup in a long time.

That’s why the spread is currently even for this game at the NCAAF odds. Some sportsbooks have Navy as the favorite, but you can still get Navy as a Pick ‘Em. That’s the bet I’m taking because of Navy’s more efficient passing offense.

All things being equal, this might come down to a play where one team has to make a throw to extend a drive. I trust Navy to make that play over Army, and I think that could be the difference in this one. Give me the Midshipmen to beat Army.

I also like the Over simply because the weather should not be a factor. This scoring line is one of the smallest you’ll see all year, and I can’t bet the Under with confidence.

NCAAF Pick: Navy PK (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook

NCAAF Pick: Over 33 (-110) at BetMGM