Armed Forces Bowl: Louisiana Tech Smart Choice Over Short-Handed Navy

Louisiana Tech football

Friday, December 9, 2016 3:10 PM GMT

Navy is the early small favorite on the college football odds against Louisiana Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, but we smell a mild upset in the Dec. 23 clash.

Had the Navy Midshipmen won last week's American Athletic Conference title game over Temple, we might still be waiting to see how the bowl schedule shook out. That didn't happen, and the Midshipmen will be making their second appearance in four years at the Armed Forces Bowl, this time against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

Fort Worth's Amon G. Carter Stadium is the site for the Dec. 23 matchup (4:30 p.m. ET) televised by ESPN. Due to Navy still having a game to play on Dec. 10 vs. Army, some sportsbooks haven't established a line and nobody has released a total, though you can find the Midshipmen -1½ at BetOnline. That could certainly change depending on the Army-Navy result.

There is a little bit of history between these two schools, and it occurred when Louisiana Tech and Navy scheduled a home-and-home for 2009-10. The Midshipmen took both games and covered the college football odds each time, a 32-14 decision as 7-point home favorites in '09 and a 37-23 final as 3-point road chalk the following season. Totals split in the contests. Navy arrives in Cowtown with a 10-10-1 bowl record, while Louisiana Tech is 4-3-1 in postseason play.

 

Can Bulldogs Resurrect Running Game?

Louisiana Tech (8-5 SU & ATS) also fell in its league championship last Saturday, dropping a 58-44 decision to Western Kentucky in the Conference USA finale. It was the second consecutive loss for the Bulldogs and the second straight game that Skip Holtz's squad could not get anything going on the ground. The Hilltoppers held Tech to 5 yards on 22 carries a week after Southern Miss limited the Bulldogs to 8 yards on 16 totes.

Ryan Higgins and the Louisiana Tech passing game are indeed the strength here, as the Bulldogs are third nationally in averaging nearly 360 YPG through the air. But the running game did help set that up, with the team rushing for more than 180 YPG before getting stifled against Western Kentucky and Southern Miss.

 

How Much Will Navy Miss Worth?

Ken Niumatalolo is about to wrap up his 10th season at Navy (9-3 SU, 7-4-1 ATS), but before he brings his football fleet to Fort Worth, there's the little matter of taking on longtime rival Army. Those old foes collide in Baltimore this Saturday, the Midshipmen favored by 6 after the spread opened -10.

Injuries are behind that spread moving away from Navy, the big one being starting quarterback Will Worth, who is lost for the year after hurting his foot in the loss to Temple for the AAC championship. Worth led the Midshipmen in rushing, and pivot duties in Navy's option will now be handled by sophomore Zach Abey. Bettors will want to get more injury updates following the Army game.

Nearly two weeks in advance of the game, coming up with a weather forecast is very iffy at best. Just about anything is possible this time of year in North Texas, but if it's close to normal that will mean temps climbing into the low 50s that Friday afternoon.

It's safe to say that neither team will likely climb into the 50s on the scoreboard, though Louisiana Tech wasn't far from that on the year with a 44 PPG scoring average. They may not even reach that average, but I still like the Bulldogs for my free college football pick. Season record: 25-23-3 (+0.40). 

NCAAF Free Pick: Louisiana Tech +1.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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