One of the better rivalries in college football has also been one of the more lopsided rivalries in college football recently. Navy has won 10 consecutive games in the series and is a significant favorite this week in Philadelphia. However, in what appears most likely to be a high-scoring shootout between two of the weaker defensive teams in the country, Army has a more likely than not shot to keep this game within a touchdown (and even wins the game outright in more than 40 percent of our simulations).
Army is just 2-9 straight-up and 3-8 against-the-spread on the season versus the 82nd ranked FBS schedule (out of 124) for 2012. The Black Knights' lone wins have come over Boston College and Air Force. Five of the team's losses have come to bowl teams, including losing by just one point, 41-40, to a Northern Illinois team that is headed to a BCS Bowl out of the MAC. Overall, Army ranks 101st in the country, yet is one of the top 40 most efficient rushing teams in the nation despite running the ball an FBS-high 86 percent of the time. It is defensively where the team struggles the most, ranking among the bottom five in country against the both the pass (#121) and the run (#122). Army has particularly struggled against teams like Navy that are run heavy (Navy runs the ball 79 percent of the time). In five games against teams that run more than they pass, Army has allowed 40.8 points-per-game this season (important information considering the total for this game).
Navy is 7-4 SU, yet just 3-7 ATS (including being 0-3 ATS as a favorite) against the 76th ranked FBS schedule. The Midshipmen rank 82nd overall in our College Football Power Rankings and also have a top 40 run efficiency offense despite every opponent knowing that is the team's focus. Defensively, Navy is better than Army, but still well below average; ranking 92nd against the pass and 87th against the run. In its four games against teams that run more than they throw, Navy allowed 33.8 points-per-game and was just 2-2 straight-up and against-the-spread.
Senior Army quarterback Trent Steelman, who is not just looking for vengeance on three previous losses to Navy as the Army quarterback, but wants to further the progress made during last year's six point loss, and Navy freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds will likely combine to prove that football games can still be high-scoring without many passes thrown. According to 50,000 games played by the Predictalator, Navy wins over Army in Philadelphia 58.6 percent of the time and by an average score of 34.5-28.6. As 7.5 point underdogs that lose by six points (again) on average, Army covers the spread 52.4 percent of the time, which is just barely above the 52.38 percent confidence threshold required to wager on a game at -110 (you owe 110 to win 100) odds. More importantly, with two bad defenses, two strong run offenses and decent weather, the OVER (56.5) covers 58 percent of the time, which would warrant a $59 wager from a normal $50 player.