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Risk Management: Your gambling guide to Army at No. 7 Michigan

Is it time to bet on a service academy football game?

NCAA Football: Rice at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year again - and no, I don’t just mean football season - it is money-making season folks! You may have been wondering where we were last week, but we decided to skip the Risk Management series in week one due to two AAE teams facing off against FCS opponents and it is tough to find a quality line or spread in an FBS-FCS matchup. We could have easily skipped this week as well because only one AAE team is playing this weekend, but for many service academy football fans it is the biggest non-CIC game of the year: Army at Michigan. Anytime a member of the AAE family takes on a top-ten foe it is worthy of being on our betting radar.

Since this is the only service academy game this week, I suspect it will garnish a decent amount of interest from Navy and Air Force fans. True college football fans remember Army pushing Oklahoma to overtime last year and even the casual fan is wondering if Army can make a game out of this thing as well. Well, I certainly think the Black Knights can make things interesting, but will it be interesting enough to actually make a wager?

Army at Michigan

Saturday, September 7 12:00 ET on FOX

Spread: Army +22

O/U: 48

If you look at the spread and O/U combined, Vegas is projecting something like a 35-13 win for the Wolverines. This would require both Michigan (40 points vs. MTSU) and Army (14 points vs. Rice) to essentially match their week one offensive performances. In all likelihood, both teams are probably hoping for more offensive efficiency as Shea Patterson had only a 59% completion rate and contributed two of the team’s four fumbles. Army’s point total tied their lowest points scored in 2018 (also in the season opener by way of a 34-14 loss at Duke).

I think Army will be a little more efficient on offense, but still wouldn’t be surprised if that only translated into just 14 or 17 points. The item to watch in this match-up is time of possession. I believe Army’s efficiency will lead to longer TOP, thus limiting Michigan’s possessions and reducing their ability to score more than 35 points. Army’s defense is better than MTSU’s and I really don’t see how Harbaugh’s squad will push to a 40 point total again.

Now, if this game was to get “out of hand” I still don’t see anything worse than a 35-17 win for Michigan. That margin (18) sits comfortably (relatively anyway) within the 22-point margin and you could even sneak a betting win at 35-14. Both outcomes would push the point total over 48 points, which again, is a reflection of a “worst case scenario” outcome in my opinion.

Going back to the spread: Joe Miller dropped this stat on us today: Since 2007, service academy teams are 15-3-1 against the spread as a 20 points or more underdog. That is a direct reflection of these team’s style of play. Blowouts happen, but generally speaking, Army, Navy, and Air Force usually find a way to keep games within a three touchdown margin when on the losing side (especially against teams that typically have NFL-type talent).

The most appetizing bet on this game is taking Army at +22, but the 48 point spread could go either way. Sure 48 is low, but if you like Army covering at 22 you would probably like their chances to keep the point total below 48 in a lower scoring affair. Take the Black Knights at +21.5 or greater and avoid the O/U.


Army +22 - Minor Risk

Under (48) - Moderate Risk