This week, there’s only one college football game on Saturday, and it’s one of the greatest rivalries in collegiate sports. Army-Navy will do battle on the gridiron for the 118th time. After losing like a billion straight games, it was the Black Knights last year who were able to come out victorious, by a score of 21-17.
What do they have to do now to repeat? Let’s take a look.
Control The Clock
When you’re talking two teams that run the triple-option, your possessions come at a premium. These two offenses, aside from their unique styles, are extremely similar statistically. Army averages 31.2 points per game, while the Midshipmen aren’t far behind, averaging 30.4 per game themselves. Both teams are coming off a loss, but Navy’s offense has struggled as of late. There’s no need to give Navy more time than necessary.
Take Away The Big Play
Like I said, throwing the ball is at a premium in this game. However, Navy quarterback Zach Abey has thrown for 7 touchdowns on the season, which is a decent amount for that program. He’s had a couple of weeks to recover after being banged up earlier in the year, and their offense isn’t afraid to sling it downfield once in a while to keep the defense honest. It’ll be up to Rhyan England and the rest of the secondary to keep Midshipmen receivers in front of them.
Army is coming off a week where they lost after putting up 49 points. Regardless of how good North Texas is offensively, giving up 52 shows there’s obviously room for improvement defensively. But I’m looking at the 6 penalties the Black Knights committed last week on the road against the Mean Green, which was a season high. Both teams typically play very disciplined games, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the higher-penalized team lose this week.
After watching Navy the past two weeks, I can’t really say I’m that impressed with them. Despite the fact that they’re 3-point Vegas favorites, I like Army in this one. While both teams’ bread and butter is the run, I think Navy relies on passing the ball to open up lanes for their backs. Army’s ground game is more refined, and I think that shows, in that they’re 3-0 in games that they had 0 passing yards. They’re simply better at what teams do best.
Also, I think Army’s last game out against North Texas was a bit of an outlier. They boast the better defensive unit (21 points per game, 360 yards of offense for Army; 29 points per game, 400 yards of offense for Navy). In these games especially, it’ll come down to who can force more turnovers and generate more stops. Army’s prowess on defense and Navy’s sloppy offense don’t bode well for a Midshipmen dub.
Army 27, Navy 17
Cover photo from USA Today