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After getting snubbed from a bowl game last season, Middle Tennessee will be playing in its first bowl game since 2010 even though its 8-4 record is the same as 2012. The move from Sun Belt to C-USA was all it needed. As for Navy, it will be playing its 10th bowl game in the past 11 seasons so nothing new here. The Midshipmen are -6 point favorites in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
This is an interesting game with two teams that have never played each other coming in at 8-4. Looking at their schedules, it's hard to say who the more impressive team is.
The Blue Raiders come in on a five-game winning streak that was started with a big 51-49 win over Marshall, who went on to play in the C-USA title game. Outside of that, they struggled against every other team with a winning record.
Navy had a similar season as only one team they beat will be playing in a bowl game (Pittsburgh). In the biggest game of their season (outside of Army), the Midshipmen put up a fight against Notre Dame, but it wasn't enough. That game along with the rest of their losses all came on the road, along with Western Kentucky, Toledo and Duke. Not exactly powerhouses.
Navy is a -6 point favorite at 5 dimes sportsbook with a total of 56 and when looking at the betting trends at sportsbook.com we see that 74% of the action has come in on Mid Tenn.
Navy still gets the edge with bettors, as it was 9-3 ATS overall this year and 4-2 ATS on the road. The same can't be said about Middle Tennessee who was just 5-7 ATS overall and 1-5 ATS on the road.
The Midshipmen run a triple-option on offense led by Keenan Reynolds at quarterback. MTU didn't really have to face an offense like this, so they may have problems. Reynolds will pass it here and there to catch the defense off guard, but there's no need to when he's busting out for 29 rushing touchdowns for the season. He finished the year with 1,260 yards, but struggled mightily in the team's four losses. He's joined by a slew of running backs, with none of them having more than 400 yards.
Much like the offense, Navy's defense allowed a good amount of points against halfway competent offenses. Mid Tennessee doesn't have a great offense, but have now scored at least 40 points in four of its last five games, so there is confidence.
While not as effective as Navy, the Blue Raiders also like to run the ball a ton with 499 rushes on the season. Due to injuries, they've used three different RBs throughout the year in lead roles. Jordan Parker (471 yards) and Reggie Whatley (631 yards) lead the way, but Jeremiah Bryson (355 yards) has been a bigger factor as of late. At quarterback Logan Kilgore is nothing special with 16 TDs and 11 INTs, but he has had some solid games, although against weaker opponents. If Navy gets up early and Kilgore is asked to bring the Blue Raiders back, that may not be a good thing.
Reynolds will surely be a handful for this defense, but MTU has been clicking on offense enough to stay in this game. Most of the early money is on Navy, in large part due to its solid ATS record this year.
The Blue Raiders are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games on grass. The Midshipmen are 4-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games and also 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
We're not going to make an official play on this game but the feeling here is that the Navy option attack is going to be too mich for this sub par Mid Tenn defense to handle. We'll ride our model in this one which has Navy winning by a minimum of two TD's and the over looks to be worth a look as well as the model has this game going over in each of it's 3 predictions.
Opinion only - Navy -6.5 and OVER 57
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