Navy Midshipmen(7-4SU,4-7ATS) vs.Army Black Knights(2-9SU,3-8ATS)
College Football Week15
Date/Time:Saturday, December 8th, 2012, 3:00 p.m. EST
Where:Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
byBadger,Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:Navy -7.5/Army +7.5
The Commander-in-Chiefs trophy will be up for grabs again this year when the Navy Midshipmen and Army Black Knights tangle in their annual gridiron game that signals the end of college footballs regular season. This years game is back at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and will be carried national for everyone to enjoy at 15-hundred hours on CBS.
Navy has turned their season around after an inauspicious start winning six of their last seven games including the last time they stepped between the stripes when they scored a solid win over WAC foe Texas State, 21-10 (back on Nov. 17th). Ironically, the Midshipmens winning ways were sparked with a big win over fellow service academy Air Force in early October, a 28-21 overtime win that put them in line to earn the Commander-in-Chiefs trophy for the first time since 2009.
The season hasnt been as kind to the two-win Black Knights, as they have lost two in a row and five of their last six games to creep into the season finale against the Midshipmen. Armys last victory was a big one though, a 41-21 win over Air Force that not only gave them some bragging rights over the flyboys, but also gave them an outside chance to earn the trophy for the first time since 1996 with a victory over their nemesis Navy on Saturday.
To add a little spice to the annual tussle, both Army and Navy will be sporting snappy new uniforms for the game with all sorts of extra meaning. Army will be sporting all black with what looks like camouflage lettering, but the camo is actually a map detail from the Battle of the Bulge. While Navy will be wearing white that will try and mimic their traditional white dress uniform, with Beat Army spelled out with signal flags on the back of the helmet.
Oddsmakers set the opening point spread for the game with Navy as 7.5-point favorites. So far the number has yet to move in either direction. An over/under total has not been put up on the board yet.
As usual, the Navy-Army game will feature two of the best and heaviest running games in college football these days. Army leads the nation in running, tallying 370 yards a game, while Navy is close behind with an average of 286 yards per contest (6thin FBS). If this game has more than 10 passes it will be amazing, since both Army (85 attempts) and Navy (80) prefer to grind it out on third-and-long rather than open themselves up to a turnover risk by throwing it.
What is also typical of option-running attacks is that both squads are lead by running quarterbacks, with Army senior Trent Steelman and Navy freshman Keenan Reynolds two of the best.
Steelman is the Army offense, leading the team in rushing with 1,152 yards rushing with over five yards a carry (5.1). He is not the Black Knights only 1,000-yard runner, as Raymond Maples has gone over the century mark (1,059, 5.4 ypc, 2 TD) and Larry Dixon (778, 6.3 ypc, 6 TD) is the back that gets most of the goal-line carries. When Steelman is forced to pass it doesnt go so well (46%, 619 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT), so the Black Knights try and avoid the passing game as much as possible.
Reynolds is not quite the runner that Steelman is, with only 585 yards rushing and nine touchdowns this season, but his passing skills are much better since he hits on 56 percent of his 80 throws for 754 yards and a solid 8-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio. The Navy attack is also a little more diverse, as both Gee Gee Greene (750 yards rushing, 280 receiving, 5 TD) and Noah Copeland (597 yards rushing, 4 TD) are dangerous with the ball and help to take some of the burden off of the young Midshipmen QB.
Where this game is likely to turn is on defense. Neither team can boast a top-notch unit, but the Midshipmen have done a solid job of making teams drive the ball and earn their points (23.5 ppg) whereas the Black Knights have been susceptible to big plays (37 ppg) and big yards (439 ypg) all season long. Army is ranked dead-last in run defense (238 ypg 122nd), and it doesnt take a handicapping wizard to figure that they will have their hands full with the Navy option game all afternoon on Saturday.
Navy won last years matchup by a score of, 27-21, in a game that was actually pretty even throughout but marred by turnovers (five fumbles) by both teams. The win was the 10thvictory in a row for the Midshipmen over Army, and 13thwin since the 1997 season, to give Navy the Big Brother-Little Brother dominance over the Black Knights since in the 2000s.
Army did cover a 7-point spread in last years game however, and the total of 48 points scored ended well short of the closing total of 55 for last years tilt. Neither team has been a good wager this season though, but historically the Midshipmen do seem to cover and finish better at the end of the year (20-9 ATS in Dec. since 1993).
Badger’sPick to Cover the Point Spread:Ill be saving my bankroll for bowl season, but if I was forced to pick a side on this Id have to go with Navy. Army will hang with them early based on emotion and just pure guts, but I think eventually the Midshipmen running game will grind them down and wear them out. Take Navy minus the points.
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