Air Force vs. Navy Week 2 College Football Best Bets: Track Our Top Selections for the Service Academy Showdown

Air Force vs. Navy Week 2 College Football Best Bets: Track Our Top Selections for the Service Academy Showdown article feature image

Kyle Emery/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Navy Midshipmen.

Air Force vs. Navy Odds

Saturday, Sept. 4
3:30 p.m. ET
Air Force Odds
-110o / -110u
Navy Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings.

Week 1 went two very different ways for service academies, Air Force and Navy. The Falcons ran all over Lafayette on their way to a 35-14 win, while the Midshipmen gained over 300+ yards rushing but were stifled by Marshall in a 49-7 loss.

Now, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the two teams meet with a similar task at hand — earning a victory before their respective conference slates kick off.

Can Navy bounce back without looking ahead to a critical road game vs. Houston? And how will Air Force respond with two winnable home dates vs. Utah State and Florida Atlantic on deck?

Our college football experts are all over this matchup as they offer up their best bets for the showdown in Annapolis, Maryland.

Here’s what we’re eyeing for the 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff.

Our Best Bets for Air Force vs. Navy

The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff's best bets for Saturday's service academy matchup between Air Force and Navy.

Click one of the bets in the "Pick" column below in order to navigate to that specific section in this article.

Darin Gardner
Shawn Burns
Thomas Schlarp

Listed odds are as of Thursday evening. Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing.

Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Photos via Getty Images.

Air Force -6

By Darin Gardner

It didn't take long to get the first matchup of service academies this season, and to the shock of no one, we're dealing with a total just barely above 40.

Navy has some serious question marks going forward, considering last week's blowout loss to Marshall after an abysmal 2020 season. Air Force, meanwhile, is coming off a very impressive offensive performance last year, albeit in just six games, and looks to be trending in a different direction than the Midshipmen.

Still, though, Air Force has some question marks of its own, which makes this a fun game to analyze heading into the weekend.

There's no question about it: This Air Force offense was the strength of the team in 2020 and should continue to be in 2021.

The Falcons obviously lean on the run in their option-based offense and were incredible at it last season, ranking second in the nation in Rushing Success Rate.

The offensive line was dominant, as well, as it led the nation in both Stuff Rate and Line Yards last season. It lost several pieces from that group but returns several veteran players who have seen playing time through the years.

Navy isn't scaring anyone through the air, so the key for this Air Force defense is how it defends the run game.

You can't base the handicap on this game based on last year's matchup between these two, but holding Navy to just 2.5 yards per carry and seven total points was very impressive from this defensive front.

There aren't many positive things to be said about this Navy offense.

It was abysmal in 2020 and that continued in Week 1, with a 38% Success Rate in a 49-7 blowout loss to Marshall. Before the game got to garbage time, Navy's success rate was just 32%. This was just a continuation of Navy's terrible offense last season, which ranked in the bottom 10 nationally in Success Rate and Points Per Drive.

It's been said that service academy defenses are better prepared to defend the run since they face so often in practice.

That wasn't the case with Navy last year in any sense, as it had the fourth-worst PFF run-defense grade in the country. This group definitely struggled against Air Force's ground game last season, allowing seven yards per carry and 369 rushing yards.

This line has held pretty steady since opening at -6 on Sunday. Some -5.5 popped up over the course of the week, but those have mostly vanished as of the time of this writing.

Personally, I took Air Force here, and it's been disappointing to not see any closing line value so far. I have the game projected as Air Force -8.4, so I still see value on the Falcons here.

Air Force -5.5

By Shawn Burns

Air Force travels to Annapolis to take on the Navy Midshipmen Saturday afternoon. 

It will be an emotional and special environment as the two proud service academies play on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Last season, Air Force defeated Navy, 40-7, and has won three out of the past five matchups by double digits. 

The Falcons are 1-0 after defeating Lafayette last weekend. In the win, they racked up over 370 yards rushing and averaged over five yards per carry. 

Quarterback Haaziq Daniels is a talented player, and if he takes care of the ball, the Falcons will be in good shape. 

Air Force has a talented defense that allowed only 15 points per game throughout the 2020 season. 

The Midshipmen played four quarterbacks during the 2020 season and couldn't find a consistent answer at the position as Navy limped to a 3-7 record. 

In last week's blowout loss to Marshall, they again played four quarterbacks and scored only seven points. Navy has now lost six consecutive games and hasn't scored more than 10 points in the last four. 

Navy allowed 30 points per game a year ago and expectations were high for a defensive improvement, but it struggled in the loss to Marshall. 

When military academies match up, you can expect high intensity and elite passion. Saturday's game will be much of the same. 

I expect Navy to give a spirited effort and keep it close. However, Air Force is the more talented team and has the more consistent defense. 

Air Force will pull away in the second half and cover the 5.5 points.

Under 41

By Thomas Schlarp

Let’s keep it patriotic on Sept. 11, and nothing is quite more American than betting on the under in a game between two service academies.

First and foremost, both teams run the triple-option, so the clock is rarely going to stop. In 2020, Navy and Air Force ranked 121st and 124th, respectively, in plays per game. 

In Week 1, the Falcons threw it five times in their 35-14 win over Lafayette. Meanwhile, the Midshipmen threw it 16 times in their 49-7 loss to Marshall, which is an anomaly because they fell down by so much, so early.

Last year’s game finished in a 40-7 win for Air Force, and there’s concern here that the same score could play out after a look at the Week 1 box scores, but I think Navy will make some big improvements in Week 2. 

Marshall is actually a decent team, and if you remember 2020, the Midshipmen were boat-raced by 52 points by BYU to start the season, only to bounce back the next game and beat Tulane. 

This is a home game for Navy, and I expect the defense to play with some passion on 9/11.

And even if Air Force does get out to an early lead, forcing Navy to pick up the pace and throw it a litte more often, Marshall sacked Navy nine times last week on 25 dropbacks — the Midshipmen aren’t about to go on a torrid scoring pace.

One final nugget securing this ticket: Dating back to 2005, service academies are 38-9-1 to the under. This line opened at 45 before getting bet down, but I still see value, as this game will likely involve both teams scoring in the teens. 

And while there won’t be much scoring in this game, at least the uniforms promise to be a pleasant sight.

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