Navy Midshipmen (-15, 54 o/u) at Army Black Knights
This Saturday, the two largest branches of the US armed forces will do faux-battle as the Navy Midshipmen (6-5) travel to Baltimore for their annual tilt with the Army Black Knights (4-7) at M&T Bank Stadium (3:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS).
Navy has a 6-5 record on the year and has won four of its last five games, including a thrilling 42-40 win against South Alabama in its last outing two weeks ago.
With a win on Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo will become the winningest coach in Navy history.
“I guess the word I think about is honored, just honored to be mentioned with [the previous Navy coaches],” Niumatalolo said. “There have been a lot of great football coaches that have come through here and helped build this program.”
Army has a 4-7 record this season. The Black Knights started the year 2-6, but won two of three down the stretch, beating Connecticut (35-21) in early November and besting Fordham (42-31) in their last outing.
If you’re a fan of the forward pass, then Saturday’s game is one to avoid. Army and Navy have the two worst passing offenses in the country, averaging just 64.5 and 87.6 yards through the air per game, respectively. Navy’s starting QB, Keenan Reynolds, has thrown just 96 passes on the year. But Reynolds’ arm must be positively exhausted compared to Angel Santiago, the leading passer for Army, who has 68 pass attempts.
If you’re a fan of epic battles in the trenches, on the other hand, then set your PVR! What these teams lack through the air, they make up for on the ground; Navy has the second-best rushing attack in the nation (averaging 357.8 yards per game), while Army is sixth (averaging 305.5 yards per game).
With both teams keen to run the ball, the rush defense will be key. However, there isn’t much to separate the teams there, either. Army surrenders just over 191 yards per game on the ground, while Navy gives up 199. Navy is quite a bit better against the pass (giving up 226.4 yards compared to Army’s 252.5) but something tells me that won’t be crucial come Saturday. (Call it football intuition.)
Saturday’s game will be the 115th meeting between Army and Navy. Navy leads the series 58–49–7 and has won the last 12 in a row. Navy is a 15-point favorite to make it 13 on Saturday (and the over/under is at 57).
For betting purposes, Army hasn’t been quite as bad lately, going 4-8 ATS in the last 12. The total has stayed under in the last five.
(Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)