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Air Force Falcons vs. Navy Midshipmen Preview and Pick

Air Force Falcons (3-1 SU, 1-2 ATS)  vs.  Navy Midshipmen (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS), Navy Memorial Stadium,  October 3rd, 3:30 p.m. Eastern, Annapolis, MD
By Oracle of

Point Spread: Air Force +3.5/Navy -3.5
Over/Under:  47.5

No matter the records, no matter the venue, no matter any other circumstances, the annual game between two schools that produce America’s heroes is always significant and thrilling for college football.

Air Force and Navy will battle in Annapolis on Saturday afternoon in a clash where the winner receives the Commander-in-Chief trophy, which is currently in the hands of Navy.

There’s no way to overstate that there will be a ton of running on Saturday afternoon in Navy Memorial Stadium with two of the country’s top rushing offenses. The Falcons lead the nation with 319 rushing yards per game, while Navy is close behind at 244.5 yards(6th in nation).  The Midshipmen are vying to lead the country in rushing for the fifth consecutive season.

Both of these offenses are built for big plays and a lot of scoring, but sportsbooks have decided to open the over/under at 47.5. This might be because, even with both teams having explosive offenses, they both have good defenses to boot.

Even though Air Force has the better straight up record, the spread favors the home team Navy Midshipmen -3.5. That line has slowly moved and is at -3 at some sportsbooks.

Strength of schedule is pretty important to look at. Air Force has beat the likes of Nicholls State, New Mexico and San Diego State. It’s not a very impressive resume, but they did play tough against a good Big Ten team in Minnesota, losing 20-13.

Meanwhile, Army has faced a couple of tough teams, including losses to Ohio State and Pittsburgh.

Any fans of the triple option won’t miss this contest, including yours truly. Ricky Dobbs is the man at the helm for Navy. He leads the Mids in rushing (294), passing (448) and touchdowns (9).

Amazingly, Air Force has six players with over 100 yards rushing on the year, led by Asher Clark’s 262. The balanced attack will make it hard for Navy’s defense, which gives up just 112 rushing yards per game, to focus on one player.

With all of the talk surrounding both teams’ dynamic rushing triple option offense, it’s the defenses that have been helping win ball games.

Air Force allows jut 11.8 points per game, which is 9th in the nation. They allow an average of just 272.8 total yards per game as well (20th in country).

Navy’s defense may not be as stout, but remember who they have gone up against, including one of the Top 10 teams in the nation.

The Mids have absolutely dominated this annual matchup the past few years. They’ve won the last six contests straight up, including a 33-27 win a year ago. Navy has also covered the spread in all six of those games. The Falcons haven’t covered the spread in their last five trips to Annapolis, either.

Last year’s matchup saw special teams play become a huge facet of the game. Navy blocked two Air Force punts, including one for a touchdown return. The Mids also received four field goals by Matthew Harmon.

Both teams had good rushing offenses a year ago, but there wasn’t a whole lot of it in their matchup. It may be different when these squads match up only because they know how to prepare for it, while other teams they play may not see it quite as often.

Navy had 206 yards rushing, just a 3.7 average, while Air Force totaled 227 yards – a 4.1 yards per carry average.

It may once again come down to special teams this year. You would think the Falcons have worked on their punt coverage. They also have a very good field goal kicker of their own in Erik Soderberg, who has 10 field goals on the year.

As far as betting trends that bettors will need to scope out, Air Force doesn’t have a lot going their way, especially head-to-head. They are 6-2 ATS in their last eight October games. But heading into a game as a dog in their last four, they’re 0-4.

Navy loves playing the MWC, and their 12-1 record in their last 13 proves just that. They have had a hard time covering against teams with a winning record as of late, going 1-4 in their last five.

The over trend is big for both teams. It’s 7-3 for Air Force in their last 10 games as the underdog.  It’s also 5-1 for Navy in their last six October games.

The kicker though is that the under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between the two service schools.

Air Force wants to prove their easy schedule to start the year isn’t the only reason they’re 3-1. Navy, on the other hand, wants to keep it’s winning streak going and win another Commander-in-Chief trophy. Which service school comes out on top? Hoorah!

Oracle’s Pick: These two teams normally play each other close, so the spread might be a tough call here. Although the under trend is high lately in this matchup, the 47.5 points looks very tasty. Take the over!

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