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Black Knights seeking history in this year’s Army-Navy Game

The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is up for grabs when the Navy Midshipmen and the Army Black Knights collide at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Army has won each of the last two Army-Navy games and is a 7-point favorite this season with the total opening at 41 points. The Black Knights are looking to win the trophy in back-to-back years for the first time since its inauguration in 1972.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in Navy’s last 12 games vs Army (avg. combined score: 36.0).
  • Army is 7-0 SU in its last seven games (avg. winning margin: 18.43).
  • Navy is 0-4 ATS in its last four games vs Army.

Navy vs Army Game Center

Black Knights closed the season on a high note

You have to go all the way back to 1996 to find a better season for Army than it had this year, as it posted a 9-1 regular-season record then and this season it finished at 9-2. The Black Knights cruised through the final stages of this year, rattling off seven straight victories, including a narrow 17-14 triumph over Air Force in Week 10. They secured their victories in the same fashion as they usually do and that’s with boots on the ground as they averaged 303 rushing yards per game, the second-most in the nation, while throwing for just 81.4 passing yards per game, the second-lowest in college football.

The Knights are led by dual-threat quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr., who threw for 895 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions, while rushing for 783 yards (second on the team) and adding another 10 touchdowns. Defensively, Army has done well holding teams down, limiting its opponents to just 18.7 points per game, which is the 17th-fewest in college football. Most notably, it surrenders 106.5 rushing yards per game, the 12th-fewest in the nation. One flaw in the Black Knights’ defense is their lack of big plays. They racked up just 15 sacks, which is tied for the eighth-fewest in the NCAA, and had only three interceptions, tied for the fewest in the nation.

Midshipmen limp into Army-Navy Game

Unlike Army, which is having its best season in over two decades, Navy is having its worst season since 2002, when it went 1-10 in the regular season but was able to win the Army-Navy Game. The Midshipmen finished this year’s regular season with a 3-9 record and dropped eight of their last nine games with an average losing margin of 15.63 over that span, including a 35-7 defeat to Air Force in Week 5. Much like the Knights, the Midshipmen rely on their run game, averaging 288.9 rushing yards per game, which is the third-most in college football, while throwing for the fewest passing yards per game at 72.2.

Former starting QB Zach Abey got his starting job back toward the end of the season, throwing for 246 yards on 24 attempts and one touchdown, while also rushing for 306 yards and a team-high 14 rushing touchdowns. Abey took the job away from Garret Lewis, who threw for 398 yards on 62 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Junior running back Malcolm Perry led the team with 1,035 rushing yards and had seven touchdowns. The defense has been a bit of a struggle for Navy, allowing 34.9 ppg, which is the 22nd-most in the NCAA, including 189 rushing yards per game, the 41st-most in the nation. Lastly, the Midshipmen got just nine sacks this season, the fewest in college football, but rank in a tie for eighth with 12 fumble recoveries.

Is the UNDER the bet to make?

Both teams have a similar game plan with a run-first attack and Bovada has this week’s total opening at 41 points. The Army-Navy Game hasn’t had a combined score over 41 points since 2011 when they put up 48 points, a span of six games. However, the Midshipmen didn’t have any games UNDER 41 points this season (they did push that total vs Temple) and the Black Knights only went UNDER that total once, against Air Force. When Navy played Air Force, they had a combined score of 42, while when Army played Air Force, they had a combined score of 31. The Black Knights have a better rushing attack than Air Force yet the Falcons were able to rack up 35 points vs the Midshipmen so I’m conflicted on the total and I’m leaning toward the OVER.

My take on Navy vs Army

I like Army to cover the 7-point spread and win the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time in consecutive years. The Black Knights had an average winning margin of 17.78 over their nine wins this season, with only two wins coming by fewer than seven points. Meanwhile, considering the two common teams that Army and Navy both played this season, the Midshipmen lost both games (59-41 to Hawaii and 35-7 to Air Force), while the Black Knights won both games (28-21 over Hawaii and 17-14 over Air Force). Lastly, Army’s defense allows the 17th-fewest points per game and the 12th-fewest rushing yards per game and I think Navy is going to struggle to score, while the Black Knights should be able to find the end zone.

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