Liberty Bowl Odds & Picks: West Virginia vs. Army

by | Dec 29, 2020 | cfb

West Virginia Mountaineers (5-4 SU, 6-3 ATS) vs. Army Black Knights (9-2, 7-4), 12/31/20

2020 Liberty Bowl

Time: 4 PM ET Thursday, Dec. 31

Where: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium

TV: ESPN

Point spread: WV -7/Army +7 (MyBookie - Special 100% bonus up to $300! Must use bonus code PREDICT100)
Over/Under: 42

Army made a bowl originally this season, then got canceled, but is back in and will take on West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl Thursday afternoon in Memphis. The Black Knights already own nine victories this season, playing a very weak schedule, and the better record in this match-up. But they’re lined as touchdown underdogs against a Mountaineers team that played .500 ball in the Big 12. Which way are we going here with our free college football bowl betting pick?

Liberty Bowl Betting Odds

College football bowl betting odds opened West Virginia at -7.5 for this Liberty Bowl over Army, with an over/under of right around 43.5. Early betting action then dropped the hook off that spread and dipped that total to 42.

According to Sagarin’s ratings at USAToday.com the Mountaineers should be favored by 8.5 points for this game.

Liberty Bowl Betting Preview

West Virginia was expected to finish somewhere in the middle in the Big 12 this season, and that’s exactly what they did. The Mountaineers started 3-1 but a 1-2 stretch, which involved tough losses to Texas Tech and Texas, dropped them from contention in the Big 12. West Virginia then closed out its regular season with a thud, losing at Iowa State 42-6 back on Dec. 5. The Mountaineers had a subsequent scheduled game against Oklahoma canceled.

So West Virginia finished 5-4 overall playing against what Sagarin ranks as the 62nd-toughest schedule in college football this season.

The Mountaineers got out-gained by the Cyclones earlier this month 483-263 and out-rushed 236-54 in what was easily their poorest performance of the season. However, prior to that game West Virginia had out-gained seven of its eight opponents this season and out-rushed five of those eight foes.

WVU played 1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS this season against teams that finished with winning records.

For years the Mountaineers played offensive-minded football, scoring points in bunches but giving up their share, too. This year, though, West Virginia struggled at times on offense, scoring just 13 points against Oklahoma State, 13 against Texas and six against Iowa State, while the defense held six of nine opponents to 21 points or less.

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Army, meanwhile, expected to rebound this season after going 5-8 last season, and did just that. The Knights started 2-0, then lost to a darn good Cincinnati team 24-10. And that was only a one-score game well into the fourth quarter. Army then won four more in a row, albeit against a cupcake schedule, then lost badly to a mediocre Tulane team 38-12. The Knights then finished with three straight wins, including a 15-0 decision over Navy and, most recently, a 10-7 decision over Air Force Dec. 19 that clinched the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.

So Army, which hadn’t won the CIC Trophy in 20 years, has now won it three of the last four seasons.

The Black Knights finished 9-2 this season playing what Sagarin calls the 128th-toughest schedule in college football. They played 2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS vs. teams that finished above .500 this season, split two games against teams that finished .500 and picked up three wins over FCS outfits. Not exactly a Murderer’s Row of a schedule, which makes it difficult to tell just how good this team is.

Army out-gained the Falcons in that season finale 290-261 and out-rushed Air Force 290-154 – yea, they had zero yards passing. So the Black Knights out-gained seven of their 11 opponents this season and out-rushed every one of them.

These programs last met back in 1961, a 7-3 West Virginia win at West Point.

College Football Betting Trends

  • West Virginia is 0-3 both SU and ATS over its last three bowl games.
  • Army is 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS over its last four bowl games.

Totals Report

Unders are 5-4 in Mountaineers games this season, which are averaging 47 total points.

Unders are 7-4 in Black Knights games this season, which are averaging 41.

Free College Football Pick

West Virginia is better than a 5-4 team. Three of its losses were one-score games in the fourth quarter. The Mountaineers also field their best defense in recent memory, holding opponents under 300 yards per game. Army, meanwhile, won nine games this season but played basically nobody. Their toughest opponent, Cincinnati, beat the Knights by two touchdowns and that’s basically what we expect for this game. Plus, Army is so darned one-dimensional offensively. We’re backing West Virginia here, minus the points.

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