Stuckey’s Michigan vs. Army Betting Preview & Odds: Can Wolverines Get Enough Possessions to Cover?

Stuckey’s Michigan vs. Army Betting Preview & Odds: Can Wolverines Get Enough Possessions to Cover? article feature image

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson

  • Michigan is a big favorite over Army (+22) at the Big House on Saturday (Noon ET, FOX).
  • Will the Black Knights be able to work the clock enough to keep this game inside the number?

Army at Michigan Betting Odds

  • Odds: Michigan -22
  • Over/Under: 48
  • Date: Saturday, Sep. 7
  • Time: Noon  ET
  • TV: FOX
  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Odds listed above via PointsBet and current as of 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.

Last year, Army came oh-so-close to changing the College Football Playoff landscape when it lost in overtime to Oklahoma in Norman. The Black Knights will have a chance to cause some chaos once again this weekend in Ann Arbor against Michigan.

Service Academy Strategies

I generally hate fading service academy schools as big underdogs. Their triple-option offenses bleed clock and limit possessions, making it very difficult to cover large spreads.

Just ask Oklahoma. The Sooners had to hold on for dear life last year after the Black Knights had two second-half possessions that took up a combined 20 minutes of game clock. The Cadets finished the season averaging a NCAA-leading 38 minutes of possession per game.

However, this just isn’t the same Army offense we’ve seen in recent years, especially up the middle. The Black Knights lost their two program staples at fullback in Darnell Woolfolk and Andy Davidson.

The fullback dive is the most important play in the triple-option offense. It’s used to pick up big chunks on first down, convert short yardage situations and keep the defense off balance.

If it isn’t effective, opposing defenses don’t have to respect the dive fake and can cheat to the outside when the quarterback keeps it. That can make all the difference in the world.

We saw that play out in Week 1 when Army only averaged 4.4 yards per play against a bad Rice defense. That’s a troubling sign for the Black Knight offense ahead of a trip to the Big House.

Army also lost center Bryce Holland and left tackle Austin Schuffert this offseason. Holland, a two-time Rimington Trophy Watch List member, anchored one of the better offensive lines in college football in 2018. He played an integral part of the Army running game up the middle in every single game over the past three seasons.

Fullback Connor Slomka (listed as questionable) did practice this week, so his presence could help on Saturday, but this offense is just not what it was the past two years.

Michigan obviously has exponentially more talent on defense than Rice. Plus, the Wolverines could also could see the return of Donovan Jeter and Michael Dwumfour on Saturday, which will give them a significant boost along the defensive line.

Bet to Watch

With a less-efficient option attack, Army won’t be able to sustain as many of its patented long drives that have made it so successful as an underdog.

Additionally, a less-effective offense will hurt an Army defense that has benefited from resting on the sidelines more than any other unit in college football. And don’t underestimate the impact from the departure of Jay Bateman — defensive coordinator in West Point from 2014-18.

Michigan should have plenty of chances to excel in the second week of its new spread offense. The athletic disparity on the outside in particular should give the Wolverines a significant edge.

Bet to Watch: Michigan up to -24

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