by Don Bleeker – Wannamakeabet Staff Writer
One of my favorite teams to watch on the collegiate level is the Navy Midshipmen. One reason for that is because I have the upmost respect for our armed services. The other reason is because I love old school, smash mouth, running football attack and that is exactly what Navy posseses. Navy ranked 2nd in the nation in total rushing. Virginia ranked 126th. And those rankings are the thesis of my pick today.
The line for this game opened up at Virginia -1.5 and has seen a swing back to Navy, now favored by 2. When looking at these bowl games, it’s been clear that having a good running game has been an important factor for winning teams. After the regular season, these teams get a little bit of a layoff before their bowl game. With limited practice time, timing for a passing team gets thrown off, not playing for so long will do that to any team. What doesn’t get thrown off is strength and power, and that is why I am taking Navy -2.
Now, neither team is a world beater. Neither team is an offensive juggernaut. But when you look at the bowl games so far this season, the 4 best rushing teams in the nation, (Army, Navy, Arizona and Florida Atlantic) are 2-1 ATS so far with Navy on deck this afternoon. Virginia is far from a stallwart defensively and I look for Navy to use that ground game to control the clock and tire down a very mediocre defense that is ranked 185th in the nation in points against.
Navy is going to need to have a good ground game in this battle with Virginia, because they are not capable of passing themselves back into a contest if they go down early. That is why I am putting such an emphasis on this spectacular running attack. Virginia does not have the athletes defensively to stop Navy’s ground and pound attack for a full game.
Back in the bowl picture for the first time since 2015 and looking to erase the sourness of a last second loss to Army, look for Navy to run the ball with success early and often, making Virginia play from behind. Controlling the clock, keeping their defense fresh all game, look for Navy to win by at least a touchdown and cover the 2 points.
Pick: Navy -2