Start Time: 3:00 PM EST, Saturday, December 12
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Records: Army: 2-9. Navy: 9-2. Navy leads the overall series 59-49-7.
Live Stats: here.
Line: Navy -21.5. Over/Under: 50.5.
Despite sitting at a 2-9 overall record, the Black Knights are not as bad as their record looks. Many of their problems are due to an offense that cannot get out of its own way.
Army is averaging only 22.6 points per game, with a rushing attack that carries the ball for 254 yards per game. Their advanced numbers in the run game do not even compare to the Navy attack. It has been a struggle as they have not broken the top 50 in any of the seven categories.
When Army is successful with the run game, it is with quarterbacks Ahmad Bradshaw and A.J. Schurr, as well as with running back Aaron Kemper. The trio is responsible for 1,358 of the team's 2,794 yards on the season. The Black Knights do have a few electric runners in John Trainor, Joe Walker, and Jordan Asberry. All three have a yards per carry average over 7.0. But none of the three have carried the ball 30 times this season.
The Army passing attack makes Navy look like a run and shoot offense. The passing game is only connecting on 44.4% of their passes, a rate that is abysmal. When passing the ball, the top target is junior Edgar Allen Poe. Not only does he have one of the best names in all of college football, but he is also a great deep threat with an 29.1 yards per catch average on the year.
The Army defense is actually better than people give it credit. They gave up over 35 points only three times on the season, but could not come up with the big plays at the end of games. Teams can run the ball versus the Black Knights, with a 4.5 yards per carry average. Pass defense can be a struggle at time as well with teams connecting for 8.2 yards per completion. Overall, the Black Knights are giving up 381.4 yards per game of total offense.
Players to watch on the Army defense include: Andrew King, Jeremy Timpf, and Brandon Jackson.
The 2015 season has been one of the best in school history for the Midshipmen. They joined the AAC and rolled to a 6-1 conference record, losing only to eventual conference champions Houston.
The Navy offense is all about the play of quarterback Keenan Reynolds. He is the composer of an option attack that does an excellent job of getting everyone involved. Just look at how effective Navy is at running the ball.
The Midshipmen are rolling in the run game to 330.1 yards per game. Other than in explosive plays, they are in the top ten in everything rushing. It is ridiculous how good they are. Reynolds leads with 1,093 and 19 touchdowns, but fullback Chris Swain is right on his heels with 847 yards rushing. Outside of those two, the ball is much more evenly distributed with 14 other players carrying the ball at least once this season.
Passing is basically only used in case of emergency for Navy. Reynolds is not a bad passer, but has only attempted 84 passes on the year. When the Midshipmen do go into the air, the ball is normally headed to Jamir Tillman. The junior has been targeted on nearly 40% of all passes. He is the only player with more than 10 catches on the season. Navy will not pass often, but will take a few chances here and there.
Other than in losses to Notre Dame and Houston, the Navy defense has been quite impressive. They are giving up only 3.9 yards per carry and under 140 yards per game on the ground. The front seven can be a bit overmatched versus big athletic offensive lines, but that should not be a problem in this game. The biggest opportunity for yards versus the Navy defense is in the passing game. They have given up 230 yards per game in the air.
Players to watch on the Navy defense include: Micah Thomas, Will Anthony, and Brendon Clements.
This is the rivalry game of all rivalry games. Army has proven in the past that they can play right alongside Navy despite being heavy underdogs. As anyone familiar with either program knows, we will see quite a bit of running the football. The only hope for Army is to keep this game sloppy and head into the fourth quarter with a chance. I don't expect to see that happen. Navy 38, Army 13.