Week 15 college capsule

December 7, 2021 07:23 PM
collegecap

ARMY vs. NAVY

From 2002-15, Navy owned Army, winning 14 straight times in head-to-head play. It wasn’t until 2016 that the Black Knights finally turned the tables, winning a 21-17 thriller. That marked the beginning of a three-year winning streak for Army and a swing of the pendulum in this rivalry, which will renew Saturday in East Rutherford, N.J. In fact, over the last two seasons, the Black Knights have been clearly the better team. They were 9-3 a year ago against Navy’s 3-7 record and won the head-to-head duel 15-0. In 2021 the teams have continued to separate, with Army coming in 8-3 and Navy just 3-8. Coach Jeff Monken’s team is rightly favored by 8.5 points. It is virtually impossible to ignore the recent incredible run of Unders on the total. That wager has converted in 15 straight matchups! Oddsmakers are finally catching up to the trend, with this year’s game expected to be played with a total in the 30s for the third time in four years. This is not statistically based, as Army is scoring 35.5 ppg this season. Army is headed to a bowl game, but looking ahead is never an option in this rivalry. The Black Knights have won four straight games, the most impressive being the most recent, a 31-16 road upset of Liberty. They’ve played a fairly tough schedule, going 4-3 against teams headed to bowl games. Army has had an extremely balanced offense, not in play-calling but in terms of leading contributors. The Black Knights boast five rushers who have run for 345 to 582 yards, led by Tyrell Robinson. Fullback Jakobi Buchanan sets the pace with 11 TDs. Quarterback Christian Anderson is also impactful and has accounted for over 1,000 total yards and 11 TDs. The defense is led by stud linebacker Andre Carter, who has 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Navy will be heading home for the season after this game, but a win in this clash can salvage even the worst campaign. Of the Midshipmen’s three wins, two have come as double-digit underdogs against UCF and Tulsa. That gives some hope for a competitive effort. Plus they’ve won four of their last five games against the spread, scoring 38 and 35 points in their last two outings. Navy’s offensive numbers aren’t quite at the level of Army’s, though QB Tai Lavatai leads the way with 676 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs. The top fullbacks are Isaac Ruoss and Carlinos Acie. The defense is led by linebacker Diego Fagot and cornerback Michael McMorris. This game was ranked by Athlon Sports recently as the No. 1 rivalry in college football, not surprising since it has its own day on the FBS schedule each year. Thus there will be no shortage of motivation on either side. That will be key for underdog Navy to overcome Army, which owns a 7-3 ATS edge in the last 10 meetings.

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