After Tennessee was forced to cancel their trip to the Liberty Bowl, the Army program got the call. Army is hoping to cap off their incredible season with a bowl victory which would give them a ten-win season. West Virginia is hoping to dampen the Army hopes with a big bowl win and a reminder that they played a tougher schedule than many would perceive.
This bowl game was supposed to feature West Virginia against Tennessee, but the Vols had to pull out of this bowl game due to COVID-19 issues. Enter Army, who was supposed to play in the Independence Bowl, but they couldn't find an opponent. They found one in West Virginia and this should be a unique matchup of opposing styles.
(Late line movements and injury reports were updated on Wednesday evening.)
The line has moved in favor of the home team for this contest as the week has gone on. West Virginia opened as a nine-point favorite when the lines came out and, as of Wednesday evening, the Mountaineers now stand as a 6.5 or seven-point favorite at the majority of sportsbooks for this contest. 55 percent of the bets ATS are backing the Black Knights with the points as they look to earn the victory in the Arizona Bowl.
The total for this contest has moved down slightly during this week. After opening at 44 points, the total has slumped down to 41 points, depending on your sportsbook of choice. A solid majority, 70 percent, of the bets on the total are expecting this contest to end up staying under the mark.
Game-time Weather: It’s going to be soggy in the Music City for this contest to close out 2020. Temperatures at kickoff are expected to be in the mid-40s with mostly cloudy skies and the real-feel temperature in the mid-30s. There is a 60 percent chance of precipitation in the forecast throughout the contest. The mercury will stay pretty constant during the game. Winds are from the northeast at nine miles an hour with the wind gusts kicking up to 13 miles an hour.
West Virginia's defense will keep them competitiveWest Virginia was hit with a tough schedule, as the Big 12 normally provides. The Mountaineers faced four ranked opponents this season and went 1-3 in those games. The rest of the season has proven that West Virginia is better than their record might who as they went 4-1 against the non-ranked opponents and finished with a 5-4 record on the season. This can be credited to a defense that allows only 20.4 points per game and has intercepted 10 passes this season (amazing considering this defense was a mess a few years ago).
The offense isn't as explosive as the one West Virginia had a few years back, but is when balanced and can put up enough points to win big games. Redshirt junior quarterback Jarret Doege has been efficient enough in the passing game with 2428 passing yards and a touchdown to interception ratio of 13 to 3. Meanwhile, the running game is led by junior running back Leddy Brown, who has 945 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. While the offense might not win with the big pass, the defense is built to stop it. The trio of Akheem Mesidor, Darius Stills, and Jared Bartlett have combined for 12 sacks, while the backend of the defense only allows 126.2 passing yards per game.
West Virginia Injury Report:
OUT: S Kerry Martin Jr., K Evan Staley, DL Darius Stills, S Scottie Young
Questionable: TE T.J. Banks, WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR Sam James
Army's defense helped earn the Commander in Chief TrophyArmy has been more than impressive this season, going 9-2 with their only losses coming to a top-ranked Cincinnati and on the road to Tulane. Most importantly, they defeated the Navy and Air Force to win the Commander-in-Chief trophy. In the two major victories, the Army defense only allows 7 total points. The defense as a whole has carried the Army program this entire season, allowing only 14 points per game which is 2nd best in the NCAA.
The heart and soul of the defense and the entire roster for that matter is linebacker Jon Rhattigan. Rhattigan leads the defense in tackles (78) and tackles for loss (9), was named second-team All-American, and was the first player from Army to be named a Chuck Bednarik semifinalist. In addition to the great play of Rhattigan, the defense has forced 13 interceptions this season, three from sophomore defensive back Jabari Moore.
Army Injury Report:
OUT: LB Henry Janeway
- Black Knights are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game.
- Black Knights are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games in December.
- Black Knights are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. Big 12.
- Black Knights are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight-up win.
- Black Knights are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.
- Mountaineers are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 Bowl games.
- Mountaineers are 1-9 ATS in their last 10 neutral site games as a favorite.
- Mountaineers are 5-16 ATS in their last 21 neutral site games.