Army vs. Citadel Betting Odds & Pick: Back Another Service Academy Under? (Saturday, Oct. 10)
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images. Pictured: Jemel Jones
- Check out our betting preview for Saturday's college football game between the Army Black Knights and Citadel Bulldogs.
- Stuckey breaks down the matchup between triple-option service academies, highlights historical betting trends, and offers his pick for the game.
- Check out his full betting preview below for updated odds and comprehensive analysis prior to kickoff at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Citadel at Army Betting Odds
|Citadel Odds||+29 [BET NOW]|
|Army Odds||-29 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||46.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||CBS Sports Network|
If you listen to The Action Network Podcast, you probably knew I was not going to pass this game up. I live for triple-option battles.
This is the first meeting between Army and Citadel since 1994 when the Black Knights won, 25-24, but Citadel has pulled the upset twice in this series.
Can the Bulldogs pull another upset on Saturday? Probably not. But that’s not why you’re here. Let’s take a closer look at this matchup from a betting perspective.
For those not familiar, Citadel is an FCS military school that runs a triple-option offense. The Bulldogs pulled off one of 2019’s biggest upsets with an overtime win at Georgia Tech.
Citadel has struggled out of the gates this year, getting off to an 0-3 start — although two of the losses came on the road against FBS schools (South Florida, Clemson). The South Florida game was actually close in the first half until Citadel had one of the worst punts you’ll ever see. That led to a USF touchdown and was all she wrote.
— #Stonkalos (@MDcoach21) September 13, 2020
Mistakes and sloppiness have been a major part of the story for Citadel through its first three games. The Bulldogs have tallied 24 penalties and seven turnovers. That’s understandable for a team that had 11 players opt-out, including an All-American transfer running back and almost everybody on the returning depth chart in the backfield.
Against South Florida, the Bulldogs had to use a converted QB at slot back and a converted linebacker at fullback. Oh, and both were redshirt freshman. It’s not surprising that there have been growing pains, especially against a very tough schedule for team that usually only plays one FBS school a year.
The Bulldogs did start to figure some things out on the ground in their most recent game — when they ran for 347 yards on 67 carries in a 37-14 loss to Eastern Kentucky. That final score looks ugly but it’s a bit misleading. The yards were about equal but Citadel lost the turnover battle, 3-0.
The bye week could end up being very beneficial for a team that needed to clean up the self-inflicted wounds and also work on conditioning for an offense that is very thin in the backfield.
Army Black Knights
Army has jumped out to a 3-1 start with its lone loss coming against a ranked Cincinnati squad. Its three wins all came in blowout fashion against Abilene Christian, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Monroe.
You know what you’re going to get with the Black Knights. A triple-option offense that grinds the clock. Not surprisingly, Army leads the nation with 57.5 rush attempts per game — and ranks second in rushing yards per game at just under 350 — trailing only Air Force.
The Black Knights are also tied with Virginia Tech at an FBS-best 7.0 yards per carry average. The competition hasn’t been great outside of Cincy but this Army attack has a bit more explosiveness than usual. Keep your eye on home-run hitter Tyrell Robinson. The explosive freshman is averaging over 12 yards per rush on the season (20 carries).
Army’s defense has held opponents to a stingy 2.6 yards per rush, which should come in handy against Citadel. Most impressively, the Black Knights held Cincinnati to 80 yards on 34 carries for a minuscule average of 2.35 yards per rush.
Senior quarterback Christian Anderson is questionable after suffering an injury last week against Abilene Christian. Sophomore Jemel Jones, who filled in admirably last week, accounting for 190 yards and three touchdowns on his own. If Anderson can’t go, Jones will be running the show once again.
As you may already know, games between service academies have historically gone under the total at a staggering rate.
Coming into the season, games involving two of the three service academy teams have gone 35-9-1 to the under since 2005. That ridiculous 79.5% win rate had led to a spectacular 53.7% return on investment. And depending on when you bet it, the under between Navy and Air Force also cashed last week.
Why have unders done so well? Service academies have familiarity defending the triple option since they practice against it every day. They also run it at an extreme clip, which keeps the clock racing and limits the number of possessions.
All of that same logic applies to this particular matchup.
I mentioned Army leads FBS with 57.5 rush attempts per game. Well, Citadel isn’t too far behind at 56.33. The clock should fly throughout this game with plenty of fourth and short conversions.
Final Betting Thoughts
I personally played Citadel +31 and under 51 earlier in the week, but if you are looking for action I think there’s value on Citadel at +30 and the Under at 47 or better (check out our updated College Football Odds Page to shop for the best number). These two bets have some correlation with how I expect the game to play out.
I think you’ll get Citadel’s best effort after a bye week in their fourth and final game of the season. This is basically their Super Bowl and playing another service academy should even the playing field.
That will mostly show on the defensive side of the ball where they will at least have plenty of familiarity with defending the triple option. That’s half the battle.
The Citadel offense will likely struggle to move the ball. Army’s defense has superior athleticism and is also obviously very familiar with the triple option. I’m counting on senior quarterback Brandon Rainey to lead at least one touchdown drive, which I think is reasonable. One touchdown ultimately may be enough for Citadel to cover in a game I expect to go under.
It’s also proven difficult for any service academy to cover such a large number. Since 2005, service academies have gone just 55-71-2 ATS (43.6%) ATS as double-digit favorites. And the possessions will be even more limited in a matchup of two triple option offenses.
Also, keep in mind that these staffs are very close. They run in the same circles, have visited each other’s campuses and have offseason zoom meetings. Last week, Army scored a late touchdown in the final minute to cover -31 against Abilene Christian. This week, Army may choose to kneel instead, not wanting to run the score up on Citadel. That could matter if Army is leading by 28 late.