Army vs. Navy betting preview
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If you're salivating at the thought of betting the college football bowl slate, there's one more appetizer left on the menu: Army vs. Navy, which will get the weekend to itself before bowl season starts on Dec. 20.

The Midshipmen won 14 straight over their rivals from 2002 until 2016, when the Black Knights snapped that streak and started their own three-game run. Navy, which has already accepted a bid for the Liberty Bowl against Kansas State, is the heavy favorite to halt Army's recent success.

(Trends are from Sports Database unless otherwise noted.)

Line movement

Navy opened this week as 10.5-point favorites, which is only the third time this season the school has given at least 10 points to an FBS foe. The line touched -10 but has since returned to -10.5 - the third-biggest line Army has seen all year.

The total remains at its opening number of 40.5, the second-lowest total in this series since data was first tracked in 2006. The lowest was in last year's game (38.5), which still hit the under in a series that's been defined by low-scoring games.

Betting trends

Navy had dominated this rivalry straight up for two decades before three consecutive losses, but Army's been the better bet against the number for years now, boasting a 6-1-1 ATS record since 2011. That includes five straight years without an ATS loss and that three-game SU winning streak.

This hasn't been the year for the Black Knights, who opened 3-1 SU but stumbled to separate five-game losing streaks SU and ATS. Things have turned around as of late, though, with two late-season wins and a 3-1 ATS run heading into Saturday. Navy, meanwhile, has been rolling all year with an 8-3 ATS record.

The real story here is the total. The under has hit in 13 consecutive years - the longest active streak of any yearly rivalry - regardless of the total, which has ranged from 38.5 to 64.5. This year, oddsmakers are hanging the second-lowest total in that span (40.5), even with the Midshipmen riding a 7-2 over run.

The X-factor

The under has been a cash cow and bettors are again pounding it this weekend. But have oddsmakers overcorrected too far with Saturday's low total? Both defenses are ranked outside of the top 65 in ESPN's SP+ rankings, with the Black Knights particularly vulnerable against the run.

Navy's offense against Army's defense is the key matchup. The Midshipmen scored 56 points last week against SMU; Army gave up 52 to Hawaii. Since 1980, offenses coming off a 50-point performance against defenses coming off a 50-point letup have averaged 39.1 points per game in 212 instances.

It's not a perfect trend to follow, given that the Black Knights allowed all those points to a pass-first Hawaii team and now face a run-heavy Navy attack. But Army has been below average against the run on a per-play basis, and Navy has scored at least 41 points in six of its 11 games ahead of Saturday.

Pick

Navy team total over 25.5

Big favorites in low-total games are always a risky bet, especially with how close this series has been as of late, but Army's offense could struggle against a competent Navy rush defense. The same can't be said on the other side of the ball, and that should ultimately decide this game.

Instead of fearing a late cover on a double-digit line, take Navy's team total, which is a safer bet than the over if Army can't muster anything early. In an option vs. option game, the clock is likely the only thing keeping the Midshipmen from hitting their season average of 39.3 points per game.

C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.

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Army vs. Navy betting preview
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