Military Bowl – Virginia Cavaliers vs. Navy Midshipmen
Date and Time: Thursday, December 28, 2017, 1:30 p.m. ET
Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD
Opening Military Bowl Odds: Pick, O/U 55
Military Bowl TV Coverage: ESPN
Virginia and Navy both come into this game on losing streaks, as Virginia has lost three straight, while Navy has also dropped three in a row. The Cavaliers finished the season at 6-6 straight up and 6-6 against the spread. Virginia averaged about 24 points per game but gave up nearly 27 per contest. The Cavaliers are led on offense by quarterback Kurt Benkert who threw for 3,062 yards and 25 TDs. He goes up against a Navy defense that allowed nearly 28 points per game this season. The Cavaliers are led on defense by Quin Blanding and Micah Kiser, who are both expected to go in the 2018 NFL Draft. Kiser has led the team in tackles the last three seasons, while Blanding was second.
The Midshipmen also finished at 6-6 SU and they were 5-5-2 ATS. They scored about 29 points per game, while giving up about 28 per contest. They went under the total in 8 of their 12 games this season. Navy is all about running the football, as they average 343 yards per game, 2nd in the country. Quarterback Zach Abey threw for just 805 yards this season but he ran for 1,325 yards. This game will be all about Virginia finding a way to slow down the run and they were 78th in the country this season against the run, giving up 180.1 yards per game. Navy’s defense isn’t that good but they benefit from the offense controlling the clock and keeping them off the field.
Navy is one of three teams playing a bowl game on their home field this season, as FAU and Miami are the other two. Five other teams will play bowl games in their home states. Playing at home is definitely a huge edge for Navy and head coach Ken Niumatalolo said to the Capital Gazette said his team is excited. “Our players are excited about the opportunity to play one last game on what is hallowed ground at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.”
These teams have not met since 1994. It will be the first bowl game for Virginia since 2011. The Midshipmen are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 bowl games. The Midshipmen are 16-6-1 ATS in their last 23 home games. The Under is 13-6-1 in the Cavaliers last 20 road games. The Over is 11-4 in the Midshipmen last 15 home games.
Military Bowl Free Picks
The experience edge in bowl games is with Navy, as they play on a regular basis, while Virginia hasn’t had a bowl game since 2011 and Virginia has not won a bowl game since 2005. Oddsmakers at the best sportsbooks really didn’t know what to do when making this line, as neither team inspires much confidence. The edge should be with Navy simply because they are playing at home. I lean toward taking the Midshipmen because of the home field edge, but it is hard to get too excited about taking either of these teams. I think there is more value on the total. I am surprised the total is in the 50’s, as neither of these teams has a good offense. Virginia has gone under in two of their last three games, while Navy has gone under in their last three contests. I will go under the total in this game.
Military Bowl ATS Pick: Under 55 at BookMaker.eu
Military Bowl Score Prediction: Navy 23, Virginia 20