Army vs Air Force Picks and Predictions: Is Under The Play Again In A Service Academy Matchup?

There are actually reasons to go against one of the safest trends in college football betting, service academy Unders, in this matchup. Find out if we actually buck history in our Air Force vs. Army picks and predictions.

Last Updated: Nov 5, 2021 6:02 PM ET Read Time: 5 min
Micah Davis Air Force Falcons college football
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Death, taxes, and service academy Unders — all some of life's locks... or so the thinking goes. Both Army and Air Force enjoy efficient offenses, putting one of the world's absolute truths into doubt this weekend.

The Falcons have already beaten the Midshipmen, handing them their worst offensive performance in nearly two decades while at it, giving Air Force a leg up in the annual Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy race. It can seal that with a win against the Black Knights.

Here are our free college football betting picks and predictions for Army at Air Force on Saturday, November 6, with kickoff set for 11:30 a.m. ET.

Army vs Air Force odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

Air Force opened as a 3-point favorite on Sunday, but that afternoon quickly saw the number drop below a field goal, holding at -2.5 all week. The total opened at 38.5 and fell all the way to 37.5, valleyed at 36.5 on Tuesday before bouncing back to 37.5’s lofty heights. Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full college football odds before placing your bets.

Army vs Air Force picks

Picks made on 11/5/2021 at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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Army vs Air Force game info

Location: Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, TX
Date: Saturday, November 6, 2021
Time: 11:30 p.m. ET

Army vs Air Force betting preview


Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NCAA football weather info.

Key injuries

Army: Christian Anderson QB (Probable).
Air Force: Haaziq Daniels QB (Questionable), David Cormier WR (Questionable), Kyle Patterson TE (Questionable).
Find our latest NCAA football injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Under has gone 7-0 in the last seven meetings between these two, part of the longer trend of the Under going 38-9 in the last 47 head-to-head service-academy matchups. Find more NCAA betting trends for Army vs. Air Force.

Army vs Air Force predictions

If this had remained at a field goal, the handicap would have been much more difficult. There is no spread too small for a favorite when facing a triple-option opponent, particularly when it is in a service-academy head-to-head.

But dropping below -3 creates enough of an opportunity here to play with conviction. Air Force is, simply enough, the better of the two teams. It has a strong run defense, holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards per game, that will assuredly be tested by Army... but it should not be exploited.

At that point, the Black Knights may try to utilize their dangerous passing game. Yes, a service academy has a dangerous passing game. Army ranks No. 2 in the country in passing efficiency, so it does not throw often, but when it does, it usually finds success, averaging 11.8 yards on 52 pass attempts.

But the Falcons have stopped much better aerial attacks, holding their opponents to only 6.6 yards per attempt, No. 23 in the country, and ranking No. 24 in passing efficiency defense. If Army cannot rely on that bit of a wrinkle, it will have to rely on its traditional triple-option look.

That should have some success, but not as much success as Air Force’s better version. The Falcons average 4.99 yards per carry, quite literally one yard away from that average rounding up to 5.0. They convert nearly 43 percent of their third downs and their two losses this season have each been by one possession.

If those two losses had gone the other way, this would be a much larger spread. Such are the optics of these small sample sizes. A much larger spread would not be deserved, but a slightly larger one is.

A contrarian play was considered but with this number sticking above 37, the Under is the correct play.

Scores like 27-10, 24-13, and 20-17 all make 37 a key number in totals, so anything lower than this would change the thinking.

But the third-down conversion rates should keep this low enough to survive such a number. Rather, the drive-continuation rates should. If adding successful fourth-down conversions into the third-down conversion rate numbers, Air Force gets first downs 63.6 percent of the time it faces a third down. Army comes in at 68.1 percent of the time.

They will go for fourth downs: Both do so more than three times per game. They will put together long drives. The clock will run.

Neither defense is to be laughed at, but giving up even 3.49 yards per rush, as Air Force does, is enough to allow a triple-option opponent to drive. Successful drives are usually key ingredients for an Over recipe, but in this case, they will shorten the game to such an extent, just three failed drives could make cracking 37.5 impossible.

College football parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed our Army vs. Air Force picks, you could win $26.45 on a $10 bet?

Use our college football parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

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