Saturday, 08 December 2018 07:53 EST
This is probably a good place to put in the typical disclaimer. The opinions and attitudes expressed in this piece are solely those of the author, Os Davis, and do not reflect the views or philosophy of any member of the NFLbets staff or members of its affiliated partners’ staffs.
For a far-lefty like yours truly, the Army-Navy football game represents the ultimate in moral-ethical paradox. Concussions and the related CTE caused by football alone had turned its share of thinking people off to the game even before we get to scandals dogging seemingly every university football program in the country.
Bu those scandals, PED abuse and other wackiness that befalls other universities don’t touch the United States Military Academy’s Army Black Knights or the U.S. Naval Academy’s Navy Midshipmen: These lads must maintain academic minimum standards and their schools are among the few with no need for illicit under-the-table bonuses. Army and Navy football players are disciplined, focused and certainly regularly drug tested.
Except ... well, these dudes as well as the boisterous and vociferous cadets filling the stands, kinda represent the biggest imperial army the world has ever seen. Upon leaving the football field, these young men will participate in the creation and maintenance of repressive states worldwide, becoming part of the daily problem of survival for greater percentages of the world’s population. And all in name of protecting the economic interests of the country’s 1% wealthiest – translated into popular parlance by news media as “defending our freedom.”
So yeah, we’re appreciating the irony of enjoying with gusto the traditional Army-Navy football game.
But the Army-Navy football game is so much more than the American military-industrial complex’s favorite sporting event: Though simply an annual tradition along the lines of Harvard-Yale, Washington state’s Apple Bowl or Alabama’s famed Iron Bowl, Army-Navy nevertheless marks the literal kickoff of college bowl season – and betting on said bowl games.
As noted elsewhere on this site, NFLbets believes that sports bettors under the level of true college football expert should only bet on college football under one of three conditions:
• During bowl season;
• On regular-season games involving one’s alma mater, favorite team or local team, about which one has intimate
• One doesn’t mind throwing away money.
Bowl season is obviously NFLbets’ preferred time for betting on college football. In fact, we’re so geeked about the prospects of getting to see some future NFL stars, of enjoying the clashes of disparate styles, of crash-coursing into some knowledge about these teams, that we’re throwing caution to the wind with some crazy bets on the Army-Navy game. NFLbets will include our results in tallying up our mark during college football bowl season, but we don’t blame you for not getting on board with this one.
Army Black Knights vs Navy Midshipmen,
over/under 40 points
NFLbets’ll handle the more defensible part of our nearly indefensible betting first: Take the over on the O/U of 40 points. Firstly, Army and Navy teams, like an NFL playoff side, tense to get more conservative in this game. Check out the results of the past four Army-Navy games – those in which Army was coached by Jeff Monken, current HC of the Black Knights – as compared to the season totals run up by these recently quite high-scoring teams:
• 2014: Navy, 17-10 (average during season: Navy, 32-25)
• 2015: Navy, 21-17 (Navy, 37-22)
• 2016: Army, 21-17 (Navy, 37-30)
• 2017: Army, 14-13 (Army 31-Navy 31)
Expanding the scope back to 2009, when Ken Niumatalolo took over, we see these results in the traditional game:
• 2008: Navy, 24-0
• 2009: Navy, 17-3
• 2010: Navy, 31-17
• 2011: Navy, 27-21
• 2012: Navy, 17-13
• 2013: Navy, 34-7
These add up to the under going 6-4 in the last 10, including a 5-1 run.
So yeah, take the under.
Army Black Knights -7 vs Navy Midshipmen
The above-listed Army-Navy game results should also indicate the close margin traditionally – even in the recent-term – in this game: Though the favorite is 9-1 SU, they’re just 4-6 ATS in the Niumatalolo Era, including a 1-5 run and an 0-4 mark since Monken came to West Point.
On top on this is the style which Monken has cultivated at Army, namely one highly concentrated on the running game, ball control and eating up clock. Army is no. 1 in the country in third-down conversion rate at 57.0%, no. 1 in time of possession at 39.2 minutes per game, and no. 2 in rushing yards at 303.1 per.
Luckily for the Midshipmen, in Army, Navy may finally have found an opponent whom they can play off. Though Navy is a dismal no. 11 in yards allowed per play, much of that naturally comes from passing plays in
the pass-wacky American Conference – the AC includes UCF, Houston and Memphis, all of whom had offenses which averaged over *43½ points per game*. On the other hand, the 2017 Black Knights also came into this game as tops in third-down conversion and top-5 in TOP, yet the Midshipmen held Army to just three (of 11) conversions and 17 points fewer than their average output.
Ready to grind it out? Navy plays at nearly a deliberate pace as does Army: They’re ranked no. 5 in time of possession at 34.33 minutes per game and are ranked a stingy 16th in turnover differential at +8, including just eight fumbles lost and five interceptions thrown in 12 games. Remember that stuff about discipline?
In 2018, the Midshipmen may not be able to keep up
with the American Conference’s high flyers, but we think they can hang with the Black Knights.
Note: The operative phrase there was “can hang with.” The truth is that Army is currently enjoying their finest football since the mid-1940s, no joke. Year 2017 saw West Point celebrate its first 10-win season since 1996. Should Army win either this game or the Armed Forces Bowl against recent Navy rival Houston, it would mark Army’s first-ever back-to-back 10-win seasons. If they win both, it would be the school’s first-ever 11-win season. And a top-20 finish (they’re currently at no. 22) would be Army’s first since 1958.
The point: This Army team is good and, as believers in the principle that talent usually wins out (again, the favorite in this game is on a 9-1 run SU), NFLbets is advising that bettors take the Army money line (ML)’ the odds are pretty crummy – we scored this line at 4/11 – but should be a good hedge, so scale up your bet on this, because we’re also saying to take Navy +7 vs Army and imagine how glorious that 20-19 Black Knights is going to be.
We are loving 2018 bowl season already, and the FBS Championship is still five weeks away!