West Virginia vs


at Memphis
Thu, Dec 31
1:00 PM Pacific
Rotation: 211
Odds: Army +9.5, Total: 43.5

Game Analysis

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Lean – Army (+9.5)  15  West Virginia  21

Lean – Under (41)

Note: News broke yesterday that 24 Army football players are part of an honors violation for cheating on an exam. Normally that would result in players not being allowed to play, but that ban was lifted in November and from what I understand most of the violators are first year students that don’t have significant roles on the football team – although a formal list has not been made public. The players have not been suspended from the team in previous games since the violation was first discovered , so there may be no action taken for this game either – and the impact is not likely to be significant if those players are not allowed to play since most apparently don’t play anyway. But, the line has moved up 2.5 points on the news and there is now enough value on Army to lean with the Cadets – although it’s possible there could be some distractions given how the news went public yesterday.

Also, the weather is much worse than anticipated with steady rain and more wind than expected. The weather doesn’t have as much of an affect on Army since wind and rain don’t have a significant impact on running the ball, which is all Army does, while it is likely to affect West Virginia’s offense, which throws more than they run.

Army got the bowl game they deserved when Tennessee dropped out of this game due to Covid issues and West Virginia might struggle to defend the triple-option attack with a couple of stars from their defensive front-7 deciding not play in pursuit of the NFL aspirations.

Army is 9-2 with their two losses coming against Cincinnati and Tulane defenses that defend the run well (Cincy 1.0 yards per rushing play better than average and Tulane 0.7 yprp better than average) and West Virginia certainly checks that box, as the Mountaineers have been 0.9 yprp better than average against the run (4.6 yprp allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yprp against an average defensive team). That run defense isn’t likely to be quite as good without Big 12 tackles leader LB Tony Fields and DL Darius Stills but the Mountaineers do get a solid addition in Scottie Young, who has finally been cleared to play after transferring from Arizona along with Fields. Young was 4th on the team in tackles for Arizona in 2019 and has been practicing all season and will be eager to play. So, the absence of Fields is offset a bit and West Virginia still has a good run defense. Whether they’ll be able to successfully defend the option is unknown.

Army’s offense averaged just 5.1 yards per play this season (against teams that would allow 6.4 yppl to an average team) but those numbers were dragged down by facing 5 teams that run the option and know how to defend it (Citadel, Tulane, Georgia Southern, Navy, and Air Force) Option teams tend to perform relatively worse against teams that see the option every day in practice and the Cadets averaged only 261 yards at 4.1 yppl in those 5 games against teams that run the option (Tulane doesn’t run as much option as they used to but their coaching staff knows how to defend it). Army averaged 367 yards at 5.6 yppl in the 5 games against FBS teams that don’t run the option while rating at just 0.8 yppl worse than average after compensating for the overall defensive ratings of those teams (0.5 yppl better than their overall rating). In my model I used only Army’s offensive ratings from those games against non-option teams, although I still project just 257 yards at 4.2 yppl for the Cadets in this game.

West Virginia’s offense is a bit below average on a national scale (5.6 yppl against teams that would allow 5.8 yppl to an average team) and Army has been 0.2 yppl better than average – and they were just as good against non-option teams. West Virginia is now projected to gain 329 yards at just 5.1 yppl and Army’s slow offensive pace and domination of the ball (averaged 34.2 minutes of possession per game) should result in a low scoring game for West Virginia.

The math favors West Virginia by only 5 points with the weather adjustment affecting their offense significantly more than Army’s run-oriented attack, and Military academies tend to perform well in bowl games (36-14 ATS), particularly if they have a win percentage of greater than .667 (23-4 ATS). I’ll now lean with Army based on the overreaction to the academic cheating scandal and the bad weather that is likely to affect West Virginia more. I’ll also lean Under 41 points or higher.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • West Virginia
  • Army


  • Run Plays 34.3 31.4
  • Run Yards 146.4 127.9
  • YPRP 4.7 4.5


  • Pass Comp 25.7 17.0
  • Pass Att 39.9 27.4
  • Comp % 64.4% 62.0%
  • Pass Yards 281.0 171.0
  • Sacks 2.0 2.8
  • Sack Yards 13.3 15.1
  • Sack % 4.8% 9.2%
  • Pass Plays 41.9 30.2
  • Net Pass Yards 267.7 155.9
  • YPPP 6.4 5.2


  • Total Plays 76.2 61.7
  • Total Yards 427.4 298.9
  • YPPL 5.6 4.8


  • Int 0.3 1.1
  • Int % 0.8% 4.0%
  • Fumbles 0.7 0.2
  • Turnovers 1.0 1.3
  • Points 26.8 20.4
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