The Army football team has been waiting a long time to taste victory in its storied series with archrival Navy.
The Black Knights have lost 14 straight games to the Midshipmen, and the oddsmakers are saying it will be 15 games by the time Saturday's game at M&T Bank Stadium is completed.
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
When: Saturday, December 10, at 3 p.m. ET
Live Stream: CBSSports.com
Army may not be ready to let the bookmakers' favorite have its way this time around. The Black Knights have a lot going for them, and the most significant advantage may be rest. Army has had two full weeks to prepare for this game, and the team should be in peak physical condition.
On the other hand, Navy has played in eight straight weeks, and its last game was a nightmare. The Midshipmen dropped a 34-10 decision to Temple, and they lost quarterback Will Worth and running back Toneo Gulley to foot injuries on the same play. Neither player will be able to compete against Army.
The Black Knights defeated Temple earlier in the season.
The oddsmakers have been moving the line in Army's direction in the days preceding the game. Ahead of the 3 p.m. ET kickoff, Navy is a 4.5-point favorite, according to OddsShark. The total in the game is 47 points.
Both teams favor the run game as the key aspect of their respective offensive attacks, but Army is almost completely one-dimensional. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw has thrown eight interceptions this season in just 84 passing attempts, and he is completing just 42.9 percent of his passes.
Army makes up for its lack of passing game with a rushing attack that is averaging 328.5 yards per game. Running back Andy Davidson is the team's leading rusher with 818 yards and nine touchdowns, while Bradshaw has picked up 646 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.
Navy figures to be at a disadvantage without Worth because that means relatively inexperienced sophomore Zach Abey will take over at quarterback. While he has been a part of the Navy team for two years and understands the principles of the triple-option offense that the Midshipmen employ, it's quite another thing to run that offense flawlessly in game competition.
"I think the main thing is being comfortable with it," Abey told Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com. "Will's told me you have to feel out what the defensive end is going to do, and it takes time in games to feel it out for yourself. Will told me it comes along as you get more game experience."
In addition to trying to put an end to the losing streak, Army is playing to honor Brandon Jackson, a teammate who died September 11 in a single-car crash.
"We are playing to honor his name and to honor the passion he brought to this game and this brotherhood," team captain and linebacker Andrew King told Tom Pedulla of the New York Post. "We will be playing as if he was out there. He would want us to play hard and go out there and get a win."
Look for Army to take advantage of its two-week break and start the game effectively. The Black Knights' running game is powerful, and Navy has had issues stopping the run.
The injuries will take their toll on Navy, and Army will take added inspiration as it plays for the memory of Jackson.
Look for Army to jump out to an early lead and hold on for its first victory over the Midshipmen since 2001.