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Army Black Knights vs. Navy Midshipmen Game Preview

CFB Handicapping – Army Black Knights (3-8) vs Navy Midshipmen (4-8)

The annual Army-Navy game is as American as hot dogs, apple pie and foreclosures. Okay, that was below the belt. But the two military academies have been locking horns for the past 81 years.

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2:35 pm EST
FedEx Field, Washington DC
Betting Lines from Sportsbook.com:
MoneyLine: Army +230, Navy -270
Spread: Army +7, Navy -7
Over/Under: 57.5

This vintage battle takes place in the nation’s capital this year. Both programs have limped to unimpressive seasons, but the result of this season-ending game means everything in terms of bragging rights for the two academies. As usual, the contest will be a battle of running game versus more running game.

Navy is at an advantage firstly because of the attrition on the Black Knights’ sideline. Army will be short DE Jarrett Mackey, last year’s second-leading tackler, as well as starting OG Joe Bailey and CB Antuan Aaron, who may have compromised his career with a neck and back injury. True, Navy has been without starting corner David Wright, but he is on the mend, and is listed as “Questionable” for this weekend’s game in DC.

An opponent knows what Navy is going to come at them with, as the Middies are fourth in the nation in rushing with almost 314 yards per game. They are surpassed by Army, if you can believe it, as the Knights grind out 351 rushing yards per contest, good for the number one spot in the FBS. Neither team puts the ball in the air much, with Army being even more inequitable than Navy. The Knights average less than 50 pass yards per. Starting QB Trent Steelman has only 39 pass attempts all year!

This game is obviously going to come down to whomever can more effectively stem the option attack. Both teams see strategy like this every week in practice, so it’s not like they are going to travel to Washington and confound the opposing defensive co-ordinator. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

At the same time, when the execution is running smoothly and the athletic, chippy blocking is being deployed, it is really difficult to stop major gouges on the ground. It is possible that whichever team can possess the ball longer, or finish with it in the fourth quarter, may win this tilt.

Both Steelman and Navy pivot Kriss Proctor are excellent scramblers, you can expect them to move and take off on designed runs early and often. However, the praise cannot be too effusive for either of these football teams, as both defenses have really struggled in 2011. Opposing teams are running up the score on both of the academies, which is indicative of the poor records this season. The triple option offense has merit, provided a team’s defense can hold up its end of the bargain. Navy, in particular, has had a couple recent successful seasons with their gameplan, but this was also when the Middies’ “D” was bringing a lot more brashness to the table.

Neither of these programs are ever going to rake in the nation’s prize recruits, but they generally do a good job of finding players to fit their system. Once again, you have to give the advantage here to the Naval Academy. It is this slight advantage in depth and talent overall top to bottom in the roster which makes me think that the Midshipmen will pull out the victory this Saturday afternoon in another edition of an undeniable slice of Americana.

Game Prediction: Navy 35, Army 21
Over/Under Prediction: 56

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