The 2013 college football regular season will conclude this Saturday when Army faces Navy in Philadelphia for its traditional rivalry game. Though many games have been close, including last season's 17-13 contest, Navy has dominated the series as of late. The Midshipmen have won ten straight contests over the Army Knights. Expect something similar this weekend as the two teams square off in what could be a fun shootout in the snow that is ultimately won by about two touchdowns by the favored team.
Having faced the nation's 69th ranked schedule, Navy is 7-4 straight-up and 7-3 against-the-spread. The Midshipmen have qualified for a bowl and are already headed to the Armed Forces Bowl to take on Middle Tennessee State on December 30th. In our final regular season College Football Power Rankings, Navy ranks 63rd overall. Not only does the team run the ball more than 83% of the time, the Midshipmen rank among the top 25 nationally in running efficiency. Led by sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds' 1,124 rushing yards on 250 carries, Navy averaged 5.4 yards-per-carry this season. Reynolds also threw for 1,028 yards on 9.0 yards-per-pass, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. In the team's seven wins, Navy averaged 40.9 points-per-game and seven of the Navy's 11 games featured more than 54 points (a defense that ranks 88th against the pass and 79th against the run contributed to the shootouts).
Army is 3-8 straight-up and 4-6 against-the-spread despite playing just the 113th ranked schedule in FBS. The Black Knights rank 107th overall in our College Football Power Rankings. Like Navy, Army runs the ball a lot (82% of the time), is efficient running the ball (40th ranked running team on a per play basis in our calculations, 5.5 yards-per-carry) and is terrible at defense (#123 against the pass and #112 against the run nationally). The Black Knights averaged 30.6 points-per-game in seven contests that they played against below average FBS run defenses. Four of Army's 11 games featured more than 54 points, while two more featured exactly 54 points scored.
Weather may be a factor in this game, yet that could actually help the offenses, especially with their lean towards running the ball. As was illustrated in the NFL last week, it's not tough to put up points in the snow when running the ball or getting players open in space on special teams plays. The current forecast from our phenomenal weather prognosticator, Charlie Schlott, calls for temperatures right around freezing and some rain/sleet/snow mix. Snow will likely fall throughout the first half and one to two inches of accumulation during the game is possible. The wind should not be a factor (and would not really be anyway with two teams that don't throw the ball).
In the conditions, with two bad defensive teams and two efficient running teams, high scores are likely. According to 50,000 games played by the Predictalator, Navy wins on average just 69.9% of the time and by an average score of 36.7-23.2. As 13 point favorites winning by just 13.5 points, Navy does not cover the spread at a high enough percentage to warrant a wager (52.4% accuracy is needed to be profitable when betting 110 to win 100) The OVER (54.5) is playable in this game and covers 57.0% of the time, enough to justify a $48 play from a normal $50 player.
Follow Paul Bessire on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@predictmachine