Army (6-5) vs Navy (9-3)
When: Saturday, December 10th 2016
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Time: 3:00 ET | TV: CBS
The Navy Midshipmen will look for their 15th consecutive victory over the Army Black Knights when the two teams meet in Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday afternoon. Navy will come into this rivalry without a week off for the first time since 1941 – nine days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Midshipmen competed in last week’s AAC title game against Temple and lost more than just the game. Senior quarterback Will Worth and senior running back Toneo Gulley suffered season-ending foot injuries in the 34-10 loss. Sophomore quarterback Zach Abey makes his first career start and will probably produce less than the talented Worth (1,198 rushing yards, 25 touchdowns on the ground). Abey saw his first career action in the last three games, rushing for 197 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries while all his passing numbers – 7-of-13 for 104 yards and two interceptions – came against Temple. The Midshipmen, who scored 183 points in victories over Tulsa, East Carolina and SMU prior to the Temple game, lost more than 41% of their rushing yards with the injuries to Worth and Gulley. Junior fullback Chris High (483 yards, five touchdowns), senior fullback Shawn White (421, seven) and Abey will try and fill the void. Navy is also banged up on defense as three starters – cornerback Elijah Merchant (concussion), outside linebacker Josiah Powell (leg) and inside linebacker Hudson Sullivan (knee) – are questionable to play Saturday. Navy will play Louisiana Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 23rd.
The Black Knights have three weeks to prepare for the Midshipmen after rushing for 504 yards in a 60-3 victory over FCS member Morgan State on November 19th and have the No. 2 ground attack in the nation at 328.9 yards per game with Navy third at 327.5. Junior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (646 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns) leads the offense and has a solid running back in sophomore Andy Davidson (team highs of 818 yards, nine touchdowns). The Black Knights have the No. 5 total defense in the nation (288.9 yards allowed per game) with senior linebackers Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King each recording a team-best 88 tackles. Army also enters the game less than 100% healthy as a pair of freshman safeties (Jaylon McClinton and Elijah Riley) have been converted to cornerback because of injuries and the death of Brandon Jackson, who was killed in a September car crash. The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is not on the line Saturday as Air Force already claimed it by sweeping the Midshipmen (28-14) and Black Knights (31-12) this season. President-elect Donald Trump will be on hand to witness the first meeting between winning teams since 2010.
Navy is probably a little down from not winning the AAC Championship Game, but you can get motivated pretty quickly when it’s Army on deck. Navy’s injuries are a big concern as they struggled to move the ball against Temple. Army has a terrific defense and will keep this game close, possibly breaking their 14-game losing streak in this historic rivalry.
Pick: Army +6