NCAA Football Betting Preview: Clash of Styles in BYU-Navy Game
Neither the BYU Cougars nor the Navy Midshipmen thought they would be playing each other in the season opener. But then COVID-19 wreaked havoc and caused some cancellations. That left both teams without an opponent at the start of their schedule. And SportsBetting patrons are in luck, because it’s a hell of a matchup.
It takes place on Labor Day (Monday, September 7) at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis. And ESPN will televise it.
Fans? Not at the moment
There will not be any fans in attendance for this one. That means the brigade of midshipmen, a fixture at Navy games, can not be there. They have appealed to the state of Maryland, to no avail. So unless something changes between now and then, Navy won’t have that advantage.
How the match got made
Things fell through for Navy with Notre Dame, which had to make a quick scheduling move. Because of the fallouts in their slate, the Irish hooked up with the ACC. At the same time, BYU was trying to fill holes in its own schedule. Utah was the opener, but they canceled, as did four other opponents. BYU, with a national profile, was able to bring in some lesser-known schools. But for the opening weekend, they found common ground with Navy. So here we are.
And here are the numbers at SportsBetting, which show BYU as the favorite on the road.
BYU Cougars vs. Navy Midshipmen Betting Odds
|BYU||-2 (-110)||50 (-110)||-125|
|Navy||+2 (-110)||50 (-110)||+105|
Navy’s option vs. BYU defense
Navy is one of just a handful of teams in FBS football using the triple option. Therefore it is not something teams normally prepare for. BYU’s plans were to go from a three-man defensive line to four men. But they may switch around a little to better deal with this unique opponent. BYU has played Air Force regularly, so the Cougars are no strangers to option football. But their defensive coordinator (Itaisa Tuiaki) has never faced an option.
Navy had a tremendous option quarterback last season. Malcolm Perry had 2017 rushing yards, a record for FBS signal-callers. And Navy had “explosive” plays on 17.8% of all snaps. But Perry is not around to work his magic anymore. And there was enough attrition on the part of the backfield that Navy has had to take a couple of wide receivers and a cornerback to use at running back.
The Middies were not able to have spring practice. And the option requires a lot of reps to develop timing. So they decided to move with Dalen Morris at QB because, as a senior, he’s got more time in the system. This is a well-coached team, without a doubt, but this year’s edition may need some time to get more cohesive. We’re thinking they won’t quite approach last year’s average of 360.5 rushing yards per game, which led the nation.
BYU is once again going with Zach Wilson at quarterback, although some of the program’s boosters don’t think he is the man for the job. But perhaps he deserves a chance, considering that he missed several games with a broken thumb last year. They have an outstanding offensive line, and will use a host of running backs. But on a team without scary wide receivers, they couldn’t much afford to lose tight end Matt Bushman. Yet they have, as he’s torn his Achilles. And that presents yet another dilemma for an offense that had red zone issues (120th in the country in red zone scoring).
Over the past 15 seasons, Navy has covered 63% of the time as an underdog. So that is definitely worth a look. We would also be on the “under” in this situation, as both offenses could find themselves struggling. If BYU makes the right adjustments in terms of alignment, they have linebackers who are talented enough to deal with the option.
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