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Army and Navy square off Saturday and believe it or not, there's actually something on the line this time. That's right, 2-9 Army has a chance to win the Commander in Chiefs Trophy as a result of their win over Air Force earlier in the year. In fact, they even beat Air by a larger margin than Navy did! Navy is currently a -7 point favorite at 5 Dimes and Betonline with a total of 56.5.
Just as certain college programs are able to recruit better players and hold long term advantages over other programs, the same can be said here, at least over the last 15 years. Navy has beat up on Army in that time. They have won 10 in a row going back to 2002 and the only one of those games that was close was last years 27-21 win. Going back to 1990, Navy has covered 68% of the games with an average winning margin of 28-16.
So can that change this year? Well, sure, it could. The numbers don't support that result, but one thing Army has going for it is motivation with the chance to play a meaningful game with something on the line. Make no mistake about it, winning this trophy is THE goal of all the service academies. We know that Army could potentially pull the upset based strictly on the Air Force results for both of these teams. But we can't make a selection on a game based on motivation. Not without at least some of the numbers backing it up, and they don't.
Our model likes Navy by 8 using season to date data and by 11 to 15 using other time frames. We can also take a look at yards per point numbers here and get an idea of the difference between these two teams. We can do that without adjusting for schedule strength as these two have played fairly even schedules. Army has an offensive ypp number of 17.3 and a defensive number of 11.8. Both of those numbers rank among the worst in college football. Navy is 15.4 and 16.4. A positive differential and at least decent.
We wouldn't lay more than a touchdown here. But at -7 or less, Navy should be able to get it done. Sure, Army could rise to the occasion and Navy could even get caught thinking they already have this game won, but there's a lot of guessing involved in that outcome. We'll go with the numbers. Navy -7