THE BLOG
12/10/2014 05:47 pm ET Updated Feb 09, 2015

Game of the Week: Army vs. Navy

The lone game of the week for the college football (FBS) schedule is not just the default "game of the week," it's a compelling matchup between two rival programs. Army and Navy head to Baltimore to face off in their annual iteration of the fourth oldest and 11th most often played rivalry in college football. Navy leads the series 58-49-7 all-time and has won 12 straight. The Midshipmen are prohibitive favorites (by simulation and spread) to win again, but that does not mean that we expect Navy to cover the more than two touchdown spread.

Army enters this game 4-7 straight-up 3-6 and against-the-spread versus the 127th ranked college football schedule. The Knights rank just 118th in our College Football Power Rankings. Army's defense ranks in the bottom ten against the run and the pass in all of the FBS. None of that is good. However, for a non-Power Five conference team, Army is above average on the ground and has experience defending Navy's option-heavy ground attack. And, though there are some ugly blowouts, Army was able to keep the game within two touchdowns in two road losses earlier in the season, meaning in six of eleven games on the year, the Knights would have covered this 15 point spread. Senior running back Larry Dixon, who has never defeated Navy yet has dealt with injuries throughout his career, is the key to his team's offensive effort. Dixon averages 5.8 yards-per-carry on the year. When he has had at least 20 rushes this season, Army is 3-0 this year. He is coming off of a 22 carry, 158 yard performance on the ground in the win over Fordham.

Navy is 6-5 straight-up and 5-5 ATS against the 77th ranked schedule in college football this year. Even with six victories and an easy schedule, Navy has only won by 15 or more points once over an FBS team all season (at home against Georgia Southern, 52-19, in Week 12). The Navy defense has been an issue as the Midshipmen rank just 102nd against the pass and 93rd nationally against the run. Navy has allowed an average of 31.5 points-per-game, while opponents have averaged five yards-per-carry against the team. On the year, Navy played six games against teams ranked 85th or worse in our Power Rankings. The Midshipmen went 4-2 straight-up in those games, but out-scored opponents by an average of just 32.8-30.3 in those games. This team is not good enough defensively nor really built to blow out the opposition.

According to 50,000 games played by the Predictalator at PredictionMachine.com, Navy wins over Army 68.7% of the time and by an average score of 38-25. As 15 underdogs projected to lose by less than two touchdowns, the Knights cover the spread 53% of the time, which is barely enough to justify a playable pick (52.4% is break even odds when wagering 11 to win 10, or -110). The total goes OVER 57.5 56.3% of the time, which warrants a wager of $41 from a normal $50 player.