Army Black Knights (3-8 SU, 5-6 ATS) at Navy Midshipmen (4-7 SU, 6-5 ATS)
Saturday December 10th, 2011. 2:30PM EST, College Football Week 15
FedEx Field Landover, M.D.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Black Knights +7/Midshipmen -7
Over/Under Total: OFF
This Saturday the Army Black Knights will meet the Navy Midshipmen in the final regular season game of the college football season at Fedex Field. The meeting will mark the 112th time the United States Military Academy has battled the United States Naval Academy on the gridiron. Navy leads the all-time series 55-49-7 which includes a 31-17 victory last season. This year both Army and Navy have struggled through the 2011 season compiling just 7 wins between the two programs. With no possibility of a bowl game, both schools will be giving a huge effort to close out their season in the right way and score a final victory for 2011.
I know a lot of people may not get excited to watch the annual meeting between Army and Navy especially with the anticipated bowl season just around the corner. It seems that many do not give the Army-Navy game any recognition because it is not considered "big time" football. However, both of these programs consist of men that will be possibly risking their lives for our country to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy "big time" football now and in the future. Therefore, there is something special to this Army-Navy rivalry and we must show appreciation for what this game stands for outside of just football.
On the field, Navy has had the upper hand in recent years winning 9 straight meetings over the Black Knights. Army's last victory over the Midshipmen is marked by a 26-17 victory in 2001 at Veterans Stadium. This Saturday's meeting marks the first game held at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. However, the Midshipmen will try to keep their dominance over the Black Knights alive in attempt to score their 10 straight win.
Navy will enter as 7 point favorites over the Black Knights in the battle for the Thompson Cup. If you are not familiar with either team, both offenses run a similar triple option style rushing attack. The Midshipmen rank 4th in the country averaging 313 yards per game through that unique rushing style offense. Senior QB Kriss Proctor leads the team in rushing with 817 yards on the ground. Proctor's numbers throwing the football are rather poor just completing 51% passing for 774 yards with 7 scores and 6 picks. However, the offense rarely relies on the passing game and uses the pass as more of an element of surprise similar to how the Army offense operates.
Outside of Proctor, running back Alexander Teich is 2nd on the team in rushing with 790 yards on the ground along with 3 scores. Both outstanding rushers will be responsible for leading the ground attack against an Army defense that has been shredded for 192 yards per game on the ground this season. For the Black Knights their defense will be a concern, but the offense leads the nation in rushing averaging 350 yards per game on the ground.
Sophomore running back Raymond Maples leads the team with 984 yards and 4 scores on the ground this season. Maples is a really explosive back that can make big plays. Another guy that can make big plays is QB Trent Steelman. Steelman is 2nd on the team in rushing with nearly 600 yards on the ground and has cashed that success in for 11 touchdowns thus far through 2011. Steelman has only attempted 39 passes this entire season while completing just 20 of those passes. However just like Navy, the offense is not designed to throw the football.
Both offenses make a living by running the football and wearing opposing defenses down over the course of a game. The Midshipmen have the edge in talent, but on paper Army should be able to move the football really well which should make this game interesting. When you get two offenses that both move the ball very well on the ground and have little success throwing the football, then you can expect a dogfight. The key for each offense will be holding onto the football because turnovers and field position will likely be the elements to success this Saturday.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Army's defense has been fairly solid at times this season and I think with a more focused effort they will play well this Saturday. If a few things go their way, the Black Knights may have a shot at the win. Take Army +7.
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