Air Force (70.1% win probability per ESPN FPI)
The Air Force Falcons will look to improve upon their 2-4 start when they hit the road to take on UNLV under a set of Friday nigh lights. Neither program has hit full stride this season and both teams are still seeking their first win in conference play. Air Force opened this week as a 13-point favorite and most lines have shifted to a 10 or 11-point spread in the Falcons favor. This shift is most likely due to the loss of Air Force’s most dynamic quarterback, Donald Hammond III, who is out with an ankle injury. Another story line likely not doing the Falcon spread any better is that Troy Calhoun’s team has yet to win on the road this season (0-3) while both of the Rebels’ victories have come at home (2-1). That said (ironically, I hate this saying), the Falcons have certainly experienced a fair share of challenging games on the road this season (at FAU, Utah State, and SDSU) and UNLV will certainly be their easiest road test so far. The quarterback story is a slight cause for concern but I still like Air Force by two scores with a likely 10-point victory. If you can find a -10 spread, I say “take it.” What about the over/under you ask? Well, Air Force games have hit the under in five out of six games this season and I think the 57.5 point total is a little too high for a team expected to win even with quarterback concerns.
Air Force (-10) - Moderate Risk
Under (57.5) - Minor Risk
Pick - Air Force 31 UNLV 21
Army West Point (81.9% win probability per ESPN FPI)
The Miami (OH) RedHawks (3-4) continue to improve each week but I don’t see how they will match Army’s (4-2) talent level on Saturday afternoon. Chuck Martin’s MAC squad is currently 3-1 in conference and the RedHawks have thus earned the respect of Vegas as they are only a one possession underdog when they travel to West Point. Army, on the other hand, is currently undefeated at home and the Black Knights have covered the spread in five straight games (to include one push in week three against Hawaii). For these reasons alone, I see Army handling Miami (OH) just fine and winning by at least two possessions. The over/under is pretty low at 48 and recent trends show that the RedHawks offense has found their way by averaging over 37 points per game in their last four contests. While 37 points against a solid Army defense and a clock-killing option based offense is highly unlikely, I do expect Miami (OH) to find the end zone a couple of times, ultimately holding up their end of the bargain in hitting the “over.”
Army (-8) - Minor Risk
Over (48) - Moderate Risk
Pick - Army 35 Miami (OH) 17
Navy (21.1% win probability per ESPN FPI)
The Navy Midshipmen (2-4) have only covered the spread only one time this season and I am not sure that tide will shift this weekend. Houston is batting .500 ATS in 2018, but Major Applewhite’s team comes into Annapolis with a 5-1 overall record. While Navy sits as a 12-point underdog, the Midshipmen have not lost a regular season home game by more than 10 points since a 12-0 loss against San Jose State in 2012. In order to keep that “streak” alive, the Navy offense will have to have answers for Houston’s All-American defensive tackle talent Ed Oliver. With Oliver on the field Navy may find themselves in some unfortunate third-and-longs (which I am sure we will hear more than once that “Navy isn’t built for third-and-long, I am still looking for the offense that is...). While Navy may be able to keep the game within reach, a two-touchdown victory for Houston is likely which which would result in Navy’s worst regular season home loss since that loss to the Spartans in 2012.
Houston (-12) - Minor Risk
Under (60.5) - Moderate Risk
Pick - Houston 35 Navy 21