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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
WHO DO WE SING FOR…SECOND?
Traditions run rampant throughout the year leading up to Army vs. Navy, and it’s part of the allure and grandeur of this amazing rivalry. Every year on the second Saturday in December we salute our service members and celebrate as only Americans would with a knockdown, drag-out game of football that is not for the faint of heart. This is traditionally a lower-scoring, gritty display of athleticism, toughness, and heart that a lot of us out there simply do not possess. It truly is a thank you for your service, and as football fans, it’s also a thank you for being the only FBS action in town this weekend. Navy leads the all-time rivalry with a record of 62-53-7 thanks mostly to 14 years winning streak from 2002-2015, but Amry has had recent success in this game.
Leading up to the game the Prisoner Exchange and Drumline battle solidifies just how competitive and brotherly the rivalry is, and what other college football game has each student body marching on the field pre-game? It’s truly a spectacle and a bucket list attendance for sports fans. Once the game plays out, you know you’ve won the day if your team’s song aka alma mater is performed second – the loser’s anthem is played first. With the stage set, let’s recap how our two military services got here this season and breakdown the matchup ahead Saturday:
ARMY’S SEASON (5-6 Overall, Home Team)
Army’s season is told in two distinct parts – the former being a 1-4 start against some rigorous out-of-conference opponents, followed by an impressive 4-2 finish where they went above 30+ points in scoring four times late this year. Offensive production for the Black Knights seems to be feast or famine week to week. In typical Army form, they boast one of the worst passing offenses in all of college football and the 2nd best rushing attack in yards per game in all of the land. It’s no secret how their offense moves, methodically and primarily on the ground.
NAVY’S SEASON (4-7 Overall, Away Team)
Army has come on late into decent form, but the Naval Academy has finished strong against even more impressive competition. Though their record doesn’t show success, they have gradually improved as the season wore on, with a close call loss to Notre Dame and a win on the road against UCF, both top 25 programs at the time. While the crunch time performances have not been there for Navy to have as many wins as their rival service academy, they’re battle tested and playing their best ball. They also have a page or two more creativity on offense, so look out for a trick play from the midshipmen.
The current early week line is EVEN across the board, which essentially means there’s no zero spread at play here and it’s a classic pick’em rivalry game. The game figures to be tight so every safety, field goal, or maybe even touchdown plays a significant role in the outcome – treat 3 points like 6 and 6 like 12. Navy has won two of the last three year’s meetings, and since there’s no true home team (outside of uniform) with the game being in Philadelphia, it doesn’t play into the spread. Both sides are very well represented in headcount and volume.
This is always the most tantalizing Over/Under of the College Football season because it’s always set so low, and this year is no different. Currently sitting at just 33.5 points (or lower on some sportsbooks), it’s hard not to play the over when it’s the only game in town on Saturday. You hate to root against points, but history shows us that the Under is the wise guys play to make for this game….sad, I know. For reference – Four of the last five Army/Navy matchups have totaled Under 33 points. Offense will not be easy to come by in this one and get ready for a game that looks more like a running drill at times.
ALEX’S PLAYS FOR ARMY/NAVY
As for the game and team play itself, it’s too hard for me to ignore how good Navy has looked in recent weeks, and how sturdy their recent competition is. I think they’re up for the challenge to contain the Army run so I like Navy ML – the midshipmen get it done and sing second.
As for the point total, I have to pick with my brain because you didn’t come here for my emotions. I would love a weird wacky wild Army/Navy shootout just like you would, but recent year results tell me this game is played in the teens. I like Under 33.5 points as crazy as that sounds.
Check out Army/Navy at 3 PM ET Saturday, and this is one game you should tune in for early to get the full anthem + pregame ceremony. After that, it’s officially Bowl Season, which means it’s time for you to get in on CFB Bowl Pick’em Pools!