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Army vs. Navy prediction, odds, betting pick

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army navy prediction

Army and Navy meet Saturday afternoon for the 122nd installment of college football’s most storied rivalry. The game will be held for the first time at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and it figures to be a good one. As it is the day’s marquee sporting event, plenty of betting action is expected. Below, we will dive into a look at the game and how to wager on it.

Let’s break down this matchup with full betting analysis before making an Army vs. Navy prediction and betting pick.

Army vs. Navy Odds

This battle for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy opened with Army listed -8, a number which has dipped slightly to 7-7.5,  despite a very even distribution on both teams in terms of number of bets and handle. The total for this one opened at a strikingly low 36.5 number, but 57 percent of the bets and 67 percent of the money coming in on the under have driven the total down as low as 34.5.

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Army vs. Navy Prediction

Despite this tough-to-swallow low number, we are firmly behind the under for this rivalry game.

The first reason, of course, is that these two have played 15 straight games under the number when they have gotten together, part of a 17-4 run for the under in the last 21 between these two service academies.

Each of the last seven head-to-head meetings have produced 38 total points or less. Oddsmakers finally caught on three years ago and now three of the four most recent meetings have had totals posted in the 30s. However, this is one of those situations where there is only so low bookmakers can reasonably go without absorbing major risk and, as such, we still see some value beneath the current 34.5 number.

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A major impetus for us backing the under here comes from the style of play that each team employs. Since early this century, Navy has been a triple option offense. Army adopted that same playbook nearly a decade ago, as well. The triple option, when successfully run, dominates time of possession, chews up huge chunks of clock, keeps opposing exhausted defenses on the field, and shrinks a game immensely. Both of these teams execute its craft very well and the clock in this one should run almost ceaselessly.

Within that same breath, however, each defense also has the advantage of seeing this style of offense day in and day out at practice. And this game means everything to these two programs, so, with the extra prep time ahead of this one, each defense should be well-prepared and properly motivated to keep this game between the 20s.

If you would like some perspective of what two option teams can do when they get together, take the last four meetings between Army and Navy as a prime example. Across those four games, the two teams combined to throw for 227 total yards. That’s right, it took essentially eight different Army-Navy offenses to produce the same number of passing yards that 66 different schools averaged per game this season.

So, now let’s tie the approach to its impact on these two teams’ statistical rankings in several key categories. Army and Navy rank second and third, respectively, in the FBS in rushing attempts per game, second and fifth in rushing yards per game, and first and third in percentage of offensive plays called as runs. As such, opponents are left fighting for possessions and scraps of clock. Army allowed the 12th fewest rushing yards per game, with Navy a respectable 32nd best in the same category, even with a 3-8 record.

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Notes to Know

Army allowed the fewest opponent plays per game, while Navy saw the fifth least, despite the two teams running just the 74th and 75th most, respectively. As you can probably guess, Army had the highest time of possession in the nation with Navy close behind, fifth overall.

Still, even beyond the simple premise of more rushes and running-clock-means-less-plays-means-less-points, these two schools do several other important things crucial to the success of a wager on the under. Army and Navy give the ball away the sixth and seventh fewest times per game of any FBS school.

Both teams are also disciplined. Army commits the fourth fewest penalties per game and Navy the eighth least, with Army ranking 10th best and Navy fifth best in minimizing penalty yardage. Army is also one of the best at keeping opponents out of the red zone, allowing the ninth fewest trips per game.

Similarly, Navy is in the top 25 among FBS schools in keeping opponents from scoring points once in the red zone. Of final note, this style of play clearly produces more of a grind-it-out approach, leading Navy to the 10th most and Army to the 39th most third downs per game, with Army converting the eight most per game in all the land. That new set of downs is often like a guaranteed couple more minutes off the game clock.

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We noticed a couple facts worth mentioning regarding some results for Army and Navy from earlier this season. The two schools combined to play seven of their nine games away from home under the opening posted total. Also, all three games these teams played with totals set at 40 or less this season stayed under the number.

Army vs. Navy Betting Pick

We will leave you with a couple trends which further bolster the under selection for this game. Army has played four of its last five games under the total against sub .500 foes, while Navy has played 7 of its last 10 under versus winning opposition.

Army also seen 27 of their last 35 outings stay under the number following a bye week, while Navy has played five of their last six under as an underdog.

Expect two disciplined, highly-motivated teams who play the same style of football to produce another low scoring game here, just like they have for the better part of this century.

Our Pick: Army/Navy Under 34.5

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