Navy (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) meets Air Force (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) on Saturday at 12pmET from Falcon Stadium. The winner of this game will have an edge on the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
Last season, the Falcons crushed the Mids 23-2 from Annapolis. They've covered five of the last six meetings.
Navy is coming off their first win of the season, which was a dramatic 23-20 double-overtime victory over AAC foes East Carolina at home. Air Force is coming off a 48-20 home win over Nevada as a 24-point favorite last Friday.
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Shocking win for NavyThe Mids looked like a basement team in the American Athletic Conference in their first two games. They lost their first game at home 14-7 to FCS Delaware and their second game was a blowout to Memphis again at home (37-13) as a 4.5-point dog. So it's understandable to think that they were going to beat ECU as a 16-point home dog with a team that has struggled to move the ball and finish drives.
However, Navy didn't beat the Pirates the way they would normally beat a team with very long drives and a lot of fullback dive plays. Mids' quarterback Tai Lavatai took the air, completing 7 of 10 passes for 152 yards. That included a 65-yard TD strike to Vincent Terrell Jr. in the fourth quarter. The Mids also got a lift from backup kicker Daniel Davies, who made three field goals, including two in both overtime periods. He was filling in for injured kicker Bijan Nichols.
The key for Navy in most games is to control the clock and they did that with 37:02 of possession time to 22:58. They lost just one fumble, which had been a huge problem in the first two games and forced two turnovers. Defensively, while they allowed 267 passing yards they gave up just 103 rushing yards. Navy committed just one penalty for five yards, which is not a surprise considering they are first in the least penalties committed per game (Air Force is third).
The key for the Mids is the play of Lavatai. He's not the best running QB the Mids have ever had, but he's big at 6-2, 220 and has 386 passing yards with two TDs, which isn't bad for an option QB. If he can hit a few big plays in the passing game, that will help the running game led by Marquel Haywood (149 yards).
Air Force bounces back from Wyoming lossIt would have been understandable if Air Force was a bit flat last Friday night with a poor Nevada team coming in and rival Navy waiting in the wings. But after they lost to Wyoming on the road on the previous Friday 17-14 as a 16.5-point favorite. they were probably a little more focused on getting to 1-1 in the MWC. The Falcons jumped to a 41-7 third-quarter lead on the heels of a 461-yard rushing performance.
That's a 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭-𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨𝐮𝐜𝐡𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 for Aiden Calvert! pic.twitter.com/bva65EqajV— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) September 24, 2022
Star running back Brad Roberts led the way with 123 yards and three touchdowns. He now has 465 yards on the season and seven touchdowns. John Lee Elkridge added 102 yards and now has 379 on the season on 10.2 yards per carry.
QB Haaziq Daniels, who ran for 705 yards last season with nine TDs and threw for 932 and five TDs is off to a slow start. He's rushed for 179 yards and two TDs (4.7ypc) with 218 passing yards with three TDs, but a 40.7% completion rate.
Defensively, the Falcons are very solid, holding their first four opponents to just 289.8 yards per game (19th) and 132.5 rushing yards (59th), which is the key number in this game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Navy got the win they needed and a huge boost of confidence. They have not been a good team in the last couple of years, but defensively, they have been solid against the run. In fact, this season, they are allowing just 69 rushing yards per game. The fact that Lavatai showed a proclivity to pass the ball effectively will give Air Force something to think about when they stack the box. For Navy to get the road win, they are going to have to pass the ball just enough to win. In this case, it will be enough to keep the game close and thus cover this game.
Full-Game Total Pick
This is an incredibly-low total. Last season was last season and both teams combined for 26 points. But every game before that went well over a total of 37.5. Air Force is certainly the more explosive team, who has scored 40 or more points in all three of their wins. Navy showed last week that they could move the ball if they weren't putting the ball on the ground. They are going to have to score points to keep up with Air Force, who won't score 40, but they will be pushing 30 points.