Free Sports Picks: Army vs. Navy Predictions
by Matt Severance - 12/10/2009
It's the regular season finale for the 2009 college football season, and there's arguably no better way to end it than with tradition-rich Army vs. Navy in Philadelphia for their 110th meeting - the game was moved a week later this year to stand on its own.
The question is: Will it even be close?
The Midshipmen have won seven in a row over the Black Knights, by a combined score of 274-71. Thus, the fact that Navy (8-4) is just a 14-point favorite on WagerWeb.com shows how far that Army (5-6) possibly has come this year. Indeed, Army already has its most wins since 1996 and can clinch a bowl berth first the first time since that year with a win: Army would play Temple in the Dec. 29 EagleBank Bowl by beating Navy, otherwise UCLA takes the spot.
If you like the forward pass, don't bother tuning into this game, as both coaches run the triple-option and these are the two lowest-ranked passing offense in the nation. In fact, WagerWeb.com will have a prop bet available on this game for total passing attempts. The Black Knights threw the second-fewest passes in the nation this year with 140. Of course, the only team to throw fewer was Navy with 89. Midshipmen starting QB Ricky Dobbs, a junior, didn't complete double-digit passes once this year but did a school and Division I-AA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 23 (previously set nationally by Florida's Tim Tebow and Air Force's Chance Harridge).
Army QB Trent Steelman had a good year in his freshman campaign, completing better than 52 percent of his passes (reaching double-digit completions once) for 560 yards, three touchdowns and just one pick. He also rushed for 690 yards and five touchdowns. More than half of Steelman's completions were to what must be the tallest receiver in the nation, 6-foot-10 Ali Villanueva, who had 29 catches for 460 yards and all five of Army's receiving touchdowns. The former offensive tackle could easily be the big-play weapon (think jump ball) who could keep this game close - Navy's tallest defensive back is 6-foot-2.
The weather in Philly shouldn't be a factor, as it will be cold but clear. The 'over/under' on WagerWeb.com is 40.5.
College Football Pick: Army is a nice story under rookie coach Rich Ellerson, and it ranks No. 14 in the nation in rushing offense (212.1 yards per game) compared to Navy's No. 3 ranking (279.7). The difference is that Navy tends to put points on the board (28.3), while Army doesn't (16.5). And of course the Midshipmen beat Notre Dame and Air Force and nearly upset Ohio State. Army was trounced by Air Force, 35-7 and its best win was against SEC bottom-feeder Vanderbilt. I would hope this line drops to 13.5 before kickoff (it hasn't moved that low anywhere yet), but take Navy and give the points but also take the over - neither team likely will stop each other too much.