Americans have a sick obsession with war and violence and there is no better metaphor for it than the significance afforded the Army/Navy football game. Unfortunately, once you strip away all of the phony patriotism and nationalistic propaganda you’re left with a college football game and a mediocre one at that. The Army Black Knights–who apparently have nothing better to do with taxpayer money than to try and sue the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights for some sort of laughable ‘trademark infringement’–are a team in decline after a run of several decent seasons. The Navy Midshipmen are having a solid year after a lousy record last season.
In reality, both teams success or failure is more of a function of scheduling than ability. How many teams can be scheduled that don’t know how to defend the gimmick option offense that both sides run? Navy is 9-2 SU/8-3 ATS with wins over ‘powerhouse’ programs like Holy Cross, East Carolina and 2-10 Connecticut. The Midshipmen haven’t stepped up in class often during this season but when they have it hasn’t gone well losing to Memphis and getting obliterated 52-20 by Notre Dame. Navy will play Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl regardless of the outcome of this game.
Army is coming off of a 10-3 season in 2017 and a 11-2 season in 2018 but they’ve been awful this year and check in with a 5-7 record. Even that weak record is phony since all of their victories have come against FCS opponents or FBS bottom feeders like UMASS, VMI and 3-9 Rice. At least Navy played some real teams which gives them an edge in this matchup. Army didn’t even have to ‘step up in class’ to get beaten badly losing to teams like Georgia State and Hawaii.
Over the past few seasons the Army/Navy game has been a very closely contested affair. The last six meetings have been decided by single digits though Army has won the last three games. That’s likely to happen this year given that Army has been kicked around by any legitimate opponent they’ve faced. Navy has a semi-competent defense that will likely determine the outcome of this contest both SU and ATS. Navy should be able to win and cover but Army’s defensive ineptitude will keep us off the total. In most seasons, this is an automatic play on the ‘Under’ with 19 of the last 27 meetings failing to exceed the total.