As painful as it is for me to say, the 2012 college football regular season officially ends on Saturday in Philadelphia with the 113th annual Army-Navy game. Yeah, it’s never usually the best football as neither team even makes much of an attempt to throw the ball, but you can’t beat the pageantry or history of the game.
And this year’s is even more special because the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is on the line. That is given to the service academy that beats the other two, with Air Force being the third. Both Army and Navy took out the AFA, so this will be the first time the trophy is up for grabs in the Army-Navy game since 2005 and just sixth time overall. Navy has won the trophy 12 times, last in 2009, while Army has claimed it six times since it was introduced in 1972 (not since 1996). This also will essentially be Army’s bowl game as the 2-9 Cadets won’t be heading to the postseason. Navy (7-4) will play Arizona State in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29.
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Army vs. Navy Betting Storylines
Since both teams haven’t played in three weeks, they are pretty healthy. Army will be missing starting right tackle Momo Kime. He had started every game this season but tore ligaments in his knee in Army’s last game, a blowout loss to Temple. Starting left tackle Ben Jebb missed the past two games with ankle and foot injuries but is likely to return. For Navy, third-string QB Rafi Montalvo is in a medically-induced coma after being injured in a single-car accident on Thanksgiving night. Montalvo wasn’t likely to see the field, but certainly his teammates want to win this game for him. Navy’s players will be wearing an emblem on their helmets to show support for Montalvo.
As mentioned above, don’t expect to see the ball in the air more than maybe 15 times. Navy ranks No. 6 nationally in rushing at 285.5 yards per game and No. 121 in passing at 108.6 per game. Army is even more extreme, ranking No. 1 in rushing (369.8) and No. 124 in passing (68.1 per game). Army has two 1,000-yard rushers: QB Trent Steelman leads the team with 1,152 yards, a record for Black Knight quarterbacks, while RB Raymond Maples is second with 1,059 yards. It’s the first Army duo with 1,000 since 1984. Steelman has five straight 100-yard games and 44 career rushing touchdowns, both school records. Former Heisman winner Glenn Davis held the record of 43 rushing touchdowns during the Hall of Famer’s career on Army's powerhouses of the mid-1940s.
The Midshipmen clearly have the better defense, allowing 23.5 points per game to Army’s 37.0. Temple – Temple! – put up 63 points on Army in the last game, with Owls running back Montel Harris running for 357 yards and seven scores.
Last year at FedEx Field outside Washington, Navy won 27-21 in front of President Obama. The two teams threw nine combined passes. Army was driving for a potential winning score but Steelman was stopped on fourth-and-seven at the Navy 25 with 4:31 remaining. That was Navy’s 10th straight victory in the series. It’s by far the longest winning streak by either side. Navy is outscoring Army by nearly 25 points per game in the run. The last time Navy lost to Army, in 2001, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo was an assistant at UNLV.
Army vs. Navy Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb, Navy is a seven-point favorite with the total at 56.5. Navy is 4-7 ATS this season and 3-7 “over/under”. Army is 3-8 ATS and 5-5 O/U.
Navy is 2-5 ATS in its past seven after a win and also in its past seven after a bye week. The Midshipmen are 0-4 in their past four vs. teams with a losing record. Army is 2-5 ATS in its past seven after a loss. Black Knights are 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a loss of more than 20 points. The under is 8-1 in Navy’s past nine after a bye week. The under is 11-2 in Army’s past 13 games following a bye week. The under is 6-0 in the past six meetings. The favorite has covered in eight of the past 11.
College Football Picks: Army vs. Navy Betting Predictions
Navy is 2-3 all-time against Army when the two teams meet with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy on the line. The Midshipmen are finding their stride, having won six of their past seven. Army has lost two straight in lopsided fashion since upsetting Air Force.
I’m trying to find a reason for Army to win here, but I can’t. It has yet to win at Lincoln Financial Field (0-9) and hasn’t won anywhere outside of West Point in its past 12 games. Meanwhile, three of Navy’s losses this year are to very good teams: Notre Dame, Penn State and San Jose State (also Troy). The Midshipmen have turned the ball over 12 times in their four losses and five times in their seven wins. And that’s really the only chance Army has: to win the turnover battle. I don’t see it. Take Navy and the under.
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