The Armed Forces Bowl usually matches up one of the service academies against a team from Conference USA or the Mountain West. In 2013, the Navy Midshipmen take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
But being a service academy hasn't meant much as far as success in this bowl goes, considering Army, Air Force and Navy are a combined 2-3 both straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) in the bowl.
The Midshipmen and Raiders meet Monday, Dec. 30 at Amon G. Carter Stadium on the TCU campus in Fort Worth in a bowl that has gone to the dogs the past five games.
Point spread: Navy opened as seven-point favorites; the total was 56.5, according to the line updates and matchup report provided by OddsShark.
OddsShark computer prediction: 33.8-31.8 Navy Midshipmen
Why the Blue Raiders can cover the Armed Forces Bowl spread
Middle Tennessee took a step up from the Sun Belt to play in Conference USA this season and proved itself worthy by winning eight games for the second consecutive season, going 6-2 in conference play. The Raiders started 3-1, then lost three games in a row—several in blowout fashion.
But Middle Tennessee bounced back to win its last five games in a row, scoring at least 42 points four times in that span. Offensively, the Raiders are nicely balanced, averaging 208 yards per game (YPG) on the ground and 207 yards through the air.
And while the MTU defense allowed over 404 YPG, it also held its last four opponents to 21 points or less.
The Raiders thought they got jobbed out of a bowl bid last year, and they should be stoked for this one. If the Armed Forces Bowl betting odds history repeats itself, the underdog Raiders could follow the last five underdogs to cover the spread here.
Why the Midshipmen can cover the Armed Forces Bowl spread
Navy returned 13 starters this season, which is a lot for a service academy. Earlier in the season, the Midshipmen beat a Big Ten team (Indiana) and an ACC team (Pittsburgh) and almost won again at Notre Dame. And since that loss to the Irish, Navy has won its last four games, including another victory over rival Army, to make a bowl for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.
Powered by its option attack, Navy ranked second in the country by averaging 322 YPG rushing. In the process, quarterback Keenan Reynolds set a new FBS record with 29 rushing touchdowns.
This is a veteran squad that's beaten expectations almost weekly this season, going 9-3 ATS and 5-1 ATS in its past six.
Like everybody else that goes up against Navy, Middle Tennessee will have to concentrate on stopping the Midshipmen's option attack. For teams that haven't seen it before, or teams that just aren't too good defensively, this can be a nightmare.
Then again, Navy is only 1-3 both SU and ATS in four bowls under Coach Ken Niumatalolo, averaging 24 PPG.
So, it can be done.
Middle Tennessee is out to prove that not only did it deserve a bowl bid this year, it was worthy last year, too. Take the Raiders and the points.
- Underdogs have covered in the past five Armed Forces Bowls.
- OVER is 7-3 in the past 10 Navy bowl games.
- Navy is 5-1 ATS in its past six games in 2013.
- Middle Tennessee is 1-6 ATS in its past seven games away from home.
Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark. Follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line move updates.