Army at UTSA Betting Odds & Pick: Expect the Roadrunners to Cover in a Low-Scoring Game (Saturday, Oct. 17)
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images. Pictured: Jeff Monken and the Army football team.
- The Army Black Knights travel to San Antonio on Saturday to take on the UTSA Roadrunners.
- The Roadrunners may have opened up their offense recently, which could pair well with the classic Army under.
- Check out Stuckey's full betting guide with updated odds below.
Army at UTSA Odds
|Army Odds||-9 [BET NOW]|
|UTSA Odds||+9 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-375/+270 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||48 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||CBS Sports Network|
For the second straight season, UTSA will host Army in San Antonio. Last year, the Roadrunners closed as 17.5-point underdogs in a game they lost by 18. This season, UTSA is getting much more respect in the market after a promising 3-2 start and is currently sitting as only a 7.5-point underdog.
Let’s take a closer look at both teams and where I think the betting value lies on both the spread and total.
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Army Black Knights
Army has jumped out to a 4-1 start in 2020, which looks impressive on the surface. However, the Black Knights have benefited from an extremely easy schedule. Their four wins have come against teams with a combined 1-16 record. Those opponents include two FCS teams (Abilene Christian and Citadel) playing limited fall schedules in addition to two of the worst FBS teams in the nation in Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe.
The lack of competition makes it much more difficult to get a read on an Army team coming off three straight non-covers. It most recently escaped with a 14-9 home victory as 28-point favorites over The Citadel last week.
Generally speaking, Army is a team I like to fade as a significant favorite and bet as a large underdog. Its triple-option offense bleeds the clock while limiting possessions. That makes it more difficult to cover larger numbers in really any game involving one of the three service academies that run the triple option.
Of the 152 teams in our BetLabs database, only Florida State has been a less-profitable favorite to back than Army, which has gone 24-40-2 (37.5%) ATS since 2005.
Army, Air Force and Navy have combined to cover less than 45% of their games (69-85-2 ATS) when favored by greater than a touchdown over that span.
Army hasn’t had starting quarterback Christian Anderson the past few weeks after he suffered an injury against Abilene Christian. His status remains up in the air, but I don’t see a huge difference between him and Jemel Jones.
#V845U, #ArmyFootball: Head coach Jeff Monken said starting QB Christian Anderson will be practicing again today, and an end-of-week decision will be made. Backup QB Jemel Jones banged up but otherwise okay for practicing as well for game at Texas San Antonio Saturday.
— Ken McMillan (@KenMcMillanTHR) October 13, 2020
Army has quite a few impressive underlying metrics on both sides of the ball, but again, the schedule has certainly provided a boost. Against Cincinnati — its sole competent opponent to date — Army failed to score an offensive touchdown but did hold the Bearcats to a respectable 4.7 yards per play.
For the first time in a few years, UTSA has looked like a competitive football team. It’s fresh off a confidence-building seven-point loss on the road against a BYU team that had been blowing the doors off teams to start the year. The Roadrunners also lost by only one possession the week before against a UAB team that may be the favorite to win the conference.
New head coach Jeff Traylor appears to have this team headed in the right direction, but he’s certainly benefiting from an experienced team. This was the year that former head coach Frank Wilson was building toward having a breakthrough.
UTSA has used four total quarterbacks this year, but Lowell Narcisse may have finally emerged as the starter moving forward. Narcisse came into the game and lit up the BYU defense in the second half, finishing last week as the highest-rated quarterback in Week 6.
The former dual-threat four-star out of New Orleans has had plenty of ups and downs in his career. Narcisse garnered attention from the best programs in the country before tearing his ACL in his junior and senior years in high school. He still ended up at LSU but lost a quarterback competition with some guy named Joe Burrow, Justin McMillan (who ended up starting at Tulane) and current LSU starter Myles Brennan. He ended up going the JUCO route and transferring to Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he eventually lost his starting gig to a walk-on. That was probably rock bottom for Narcisse, who then made his way to UTSA where he had yet to break through — until last week. The talent is there, and he’s clearly the best man for the job.
Narcisse has plenty of weapons to work with on the outside and a reliable running back in sophomore Sincere McCormick, who finished a freshman All-American campaign with just under 1,000 yards at 5.6 yards per carry. If Narcisse can play up to his potential like he did last week, McCormick will have much more space to work with in the running game.
The offensive line is also now at full strength after getting Makai Hart back from injury at right tackle. The 2019 JUCO All-American gives the Roadrunners a formidable pair of tackles with 2019 All-CUSA Honorable Mention tackle Spencer Burford locking down the left side. There’s also plenty of starting experience at center and right guard.
On the other side of the ball, eight of the team’s 10 top tacklers return for a defense that ranks in the top 25 in Line Yards, Standard Down Line Yards and Stuff Rate. Those are three important advanced metrics to focus on when facing a triple-option offense.
The defensive line played really well against BYU, which is a promising sign for this matchup against Army. UTSA should also get Jaylon Haynes back at nose tackle after missing last week’s game against BYU with an injury. That’s big against the fullback dive-heavy triple-option offense of Army. Haynes is the most experienced nose tackle on the roster by far and ranks in the top 20 nationally in tackles for loss per game.
One concern for the Roadrunners will be making do without safety Rashad Wisdom for the first 30 minutes. Wisdom is suspended for the first half due to a targeting call last week. At least SaVion Harris should return from injury at the other safety spot — a position in which UTSA isn’t particularly deep.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
As I previously mentioned, UTSA lost to Army by 18 last year, but that was the first time in school history it faced a service academy. It’s always difficult facing the unique triple option for the first time. That game should give it more familiarity and pay dividends this weekend for a very experienced defense.
I do have some worries about UTSA. The linebackers have shown some vulnerabilities when it comes to playing disciplined football, which is key against the triple option. This will also mark its third straight physical opponent after facing UAB and BYU. Maybe the Roadrunners run out of gas.
That said, I think their defensive line can make enough negative plays to put Army behind the sticks. Narcisse should also have opportunities down the field to attack Army’s secondary. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder had some chances down the field but simply missed open receivers. If Narcisse can connect on a few explosive passing plays, UTSA can hang around and even win this game.
It’s not an efficient offense, but it is an explosive one. UTSA ranks in the top five nationally in both rush and pass explosiveness. If the Roadrunners aren’t hitting any explosive plays, they may not stand much of a chance against Army. However, in that case, the under, which I fancy anyway, would be in good shape. We know Army will bleed the clock and play as slow as any team in the country.
Last year, these two teams combined for 44 points in a game that featured six total turnovers and a few scoring drives on short fields.
I personally think UTSA remains undervalued in the market. Through the first five weeks, it’s covered by an average of over eight points per game. Meanwhile, I’m still not sold on Army on both sides of the ball after a cupcake schedule to start the year. Maybe Narcisse’s performance was a fluke last week, but I took a shot on the Roadrunners here as a home dog in addition to the under.
Pick: Under 49.5 (down to 49) and UTSA +7.5 (+7 or better)