The Midshipmen of Navy, coming off a victory over fellow service academy Air Force out in Colorado, stop in the Midwest for a Friday night college football game vs. the Chippewas of Central Michigan (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Can Navy pick up a second straight road victory or will the Chippewas wake up and play some defense? And which way will this game tilt toward the point spread, which was sitting around -2.5 for the home side late in the week?
It's a surprising spread given that Central Michigan is a wallet-draining 2-16 ATS in its last 18 games, according to the college football odds database.
Navy returned 13 starters this season, which is a lot for a service academy. The Mids opened this season with a 50-10 loss to Notre Dame over in Ireland, then came back to the States and lost at Penn State, 34-7.
The Middies got their first victory, beating VMI 41-3, but then got shut out by San Jose State 12-0.
Last Saturday, though, Navy earned an important notch in its belt, coming from behind to win at Air Force, 28-21 in overtime. That puts the Middies a win over Army away from reclaiming the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
One of Navy's main problems has been its 12 turnovers. Middies QB Trey Miller has turned the ball over 10 times by himself, several times in opponents' territory. However, Miller is dealing with a sore ankle, and his status for Friday night is uncertain.
Navy did not commit a turnover vs. Air Force.
Central Michigan, meanwhile, got 15 starters back this season—eight on defense—from a team that went 3-9 last year. In fact, after going 38-17 from 2006-09, the Chips have gone 3-9 each of the last two seasons.
CMU opened this year with a 38-27 victory over Southeast Missouri State, then lost to Michigan State 41-7. The Chips then bagged themselves an upset of a Big Ten team, getting a field goal at the buzzer to win at Iowa 32-31.
But Central Michigan has not been able to ride any momentum it might have picked up from the win over the Hawkeyes. The Chippewas followed that victory up with a 55-24 loss at Northern Illinois, then last week lost at Toledo, 50-35.
So CMU has allowed an average of 44 PPG in its four games vs. FBS competition.
As of Thursday, most college football betting outlets were listing Central Michigan as a two-point favorite for this game, with an OVER/UNDER of 60.
These two teams met two seasons ago, the Middies escaping as 14-point favorites with a 38-37 victory when the Chips went for two and the win in the final seconds but failed.
Free Pick: Teams that don't see Navy's option often can get a little lost on defense, but Central Michigan, despite its defensive problems, should have enough to beat the Middies. We'll give the points and take the Chips (courtesy of PickShark.com).