Navy vs. Army NCAAF Week 15 Odds & Betting Picks: Service Academies Playing for Pride

Tyrell Robinson Army Black Knights College Football
Tyrell Robinson #21 of the Army Black Knights celebrates a catch in the first quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Truist Field. Eakin Howard/Getty Images/AFP

For the most part, college football is taking a week off in Week 15, in the second weekend of December. Conference championship games have been played. Bowl game matchups are all set. The only thing left is a handful of stray games between teams that are essentially playing for pride.

No one has more pride than the two teams who will meet in Philadelphia for one of the great traditions in sports—the 123rd Army-Navy Game.

The Black Knights have won two straight to move to 5-6. Another win would make them bowl-eligible, although there isn’t a bowl home left for them, even if they reach the six-win mark. Navy enters at 4-7 but had two of its best efforts of the year the previous two games, upsetting then No. 20 UCF and just barely losing to then No. 20 Notre Dame, by three.

This will be the 123rd meeting between the two teams, and they’ve played every year since 1930. Army has a recent advantage, winning four of the last six games in the rivalry.

Navy Midshipmen vs. Army Black Knights

Saturday, December 10, 2022 – 03:00 PM EST at Lincoln Financial Field

Tough Schedule

Navy may not have as many wins as Army this season, but the level of difficulty is certainly higher. The Middies played an AAC conference schedule and hold victories over East Carolina, Tulsa and Temple, in addition to the UCF win. They played eight teams who are playing in a bowl this postseason.

Army’s five wins have come against two FCS teams—Villanova and Colgate—4-8 ULM, 1-11 UMass and 6-6 UConn.

Navy has seemed to gel against the tough schedule as the extremely young team comes of age. The Midshipmen started the season with just 25 seniors on the roster after a rash of transfers during the COVID pandemic caused the attrition of two-thirds of that class. Navy had 17 players start for the first time this season, after having 22 first-time starters last year.

“The reps are so valuable for our young guys. Those reps would not have been available if we didn’t have such a diminished [senior] class,” said defensive coordinator Brian Newberry. “I’m excited to finish the year strong, and excited about the talent and the quality of guys coming back. In terms of knowing our system, our brand, knowing each other and trusting each other, we’ll be much further along next year. We’ll be back to a normal size in our junior and senior classes.”

A Physical Challenge

The team is also coming off of back-to-back off weeks, having last played on Nov. 19. That game capped a rough three-week stretch that included trips to Cincinnati and UCF and a home game against Notre Dame.

“Those last three games were very physical and our guys are pretty banged up right now,” said coach Ken Niumatalolo prior to the time off.

Ground Battle

There’s no question what the marquee matchup of this game is. Army comes in averaging 304 yards per game on the ground, which ranks second in college football. Navy has given up just 85.6 rushing yards per game, which is fourth in the nation. That’s even more impressive considering the Midshipmen have already faced the top rushing offense in the country (Air Force) and the No. 8 rushing attack (UCF).

Navy has allowed just six rushing touchdowns this year and has held foes to under 100 ground yards in seven games, including the last four.

Army is disciplined. They are in the top 20 in fewest turnovers on offense and No. 9 in fewest tackles for loss allowed. Their penalties and penalty yards given up are also among the fewest in the nation. Their defense is also stout, led by potential first-round NFL draft pick, linebacker Andre Carter II, and their special teams include two top-10 national units (punt return defense and kick return defense).

The Betting Pick

Army has also been playing its best football as the season winds down, with a blowout of UMass and a win over bowl-bound UConn to close out the season. The final four games also included losses to Air Force and Troy, both bowl bound, by a total of seven points.

Look for Army to even its record at 6-6 by grinding out a win against a tough Navy team.

NCAAF Pick: Army +1.5 (-108) at FanDuel is your sports betting command center. Read featured betting strategy compiled from a panel of leading sports betting experts.

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