December 8, 2012
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NAVY MIDSHIPMEN (7-4) vs. ARMY BLACK KNIGHTS (2-9)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Navy -7 & 56.5
Opening Line & Total: Midshipmen -7 & 57
Army and Navy will meet for the 113th time when the schools square off on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Navy is working on a 10-game winning streak (7-3 ATS) in the series, the longest ever in the history of this storied rivalry. Both teams are among the nation's best in rushing offense -- Army is 1st (370 YPG) and Navy is 6th (285 YPG) -- and they are the two worst passing offenses among FBS teams too (Army ranks last with 68 YPG, Air Force and New Mexico are the only other FBS teams worse than Navy, which averages 109 YPG). While this will be the season finale for the Knights, the Midshipmen are set to play Arizona State in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Francisco. The Knights, 9-29 ATS (24%) after a bye week since 1992, are quarterbacked by senior Trent Steelman, who leads the team with 1,152 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns and holds the Army all-time record with 44 career rushing touchdowns. His experience will be invaluable in this grand spectacle of a game on national television, much more so than Navy freshman QB Keenan Reynolds, who has just six career starts under his belt. Also, underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points, after having lost 6 or 7 out of their last 8 games against opponent after having won 4 or 5 out of their last 6 games, are 31-12 ATS (72%) in the past 10 seasons.
Navy freshman QB Keenan Reynolds has played virtually mistake-free football, throwing 8 TD and just 1 INT in his 80 pass attempts this season. He began the month of November with 306 total yards against Florida Atlantic and 289 total yards in a loss at Troy, but Reynolds wasn't needed to do much in the last game against Texas State. In that 21-10 victory, he had just 85 total yards, but his team still ran for 407 yards, as six other players gained at least 25 yards on the ground. Noah Copeland led the way with 110 yards (6.5 YPC) and 2 TD, while Gee Gee Greene finished with 71 yards on 5.1 YPC and one touchdown. Greene leads the Midshipmen with 750 rushing yards and he also has 280 more yards receiving. In his past two games in this series, Greene has rushed for 81 yards on 12 carries (6.8 YPC). The Midshipmen offense has committed just five turnovers in the past seven games combined. Navy has an average defense in terms of yardage (386 YPG allowed, 54th in FBS), but has surrendered just 23.6 PPG this year (36th in nation).
Army QB Trent Steelman will make his 46th career start on Saturday in Philadelphia and become the first Army quarterback since World War II to start in four Army-Navy games. The senior's career has been defined by toughness -- Steelman played last year's game with an injured knee and ankle that had limited him to just two snaps over the previous five weeks leading up to the Army-Navy game. He has set Army records in rushing yards for a season (1,152) and career (3,224) by a quarterback and career rushing touchdowns (44). He is a game-breaker too, with Army's three longest touchdown runs (75, 73 and 56) this season. But the Knights have another 1,000-yard rusher in Raymond Maples, who has 1,059 yards on just 196 carries (5.4 YPC). He ran for 82 yards on 13 carries (6.3 YPC) in last year's 27-21 loss to Navy. Sophomore RB Larry Dixon has also finished this season with a flourish, rumbling for 276 yards on just 33 carries (8.4 YPC) over the past three games. The Knights will use all three of their top rushers to try to keep their porous defense off the field. They have allowed 37.0 PPG (13th-most in FBS) and 238 rushing YPG (3rd-most in nation). It also hasn't helped that Army's defense has forced multiple turnovers in a game just twice all season.