College Football Picks: Stanford vs. Army

Ross Benjamin

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 9:13 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013 9:13 PM UTC

The 5th ranked Stanford Cardinal travels across the country to West Point and take on the Army Cadets on Saturday at Noon ET.

The Cardinal opened the season last Saturday with a 34-13 home win versus San Jose St. Stanford failed to cover as a 24.5-point favorite. The Cadets of Army enter this contest at 1-1 after suffering a 40-14 loss at Ball St. last week and failing to cover as a 10.0-point underdog. Army opened the season by defeating a FCS school Morgan St. 28-13 and failed to get the cash as a 33.0-point favorite. This will mark the first ever meeting between these 2 schools on the football field.

Take a look at our College Football Picks: Opening Odds Report for Week 3.

Why Army can cover? 

Army possesses one of the most potent ground attacks in the country averaging 329 yards per game rushing in their first 2 contests. Even in last week’s blowout loss to Ball St. the Cadets ran for 363 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. The Cadets have the ability to frustrate a bigger and more athletic team like Stanford if they can sustain drives with their running attack, while keeping the Cardinal offense on the sidelines. Running back Larry Dixon has been a force in the first 2 games rushing for 220 yards, averaging a whopping 8.8 yards per carry, and scored 2 touchdowns. The Cadets need to protect the football better than they did a week ago when they committed 3 turnovers, and only forced Ball St. to turn it over once. That was the difference in an otherwise statistically even game. They must stay in manageable 3rd downs versus a physically superior team like Stanford since they have virtually no semblance of a passing game.

There’s always the chance that Stanford may be looking ahead to their conference opener next week versus a very good Arizona St. squad. In addition this will be a 9:00 AM Pacific Coast time start which is an uncustomary start time for a west coast team. Then there’s sure to be some degree of overconfidence versus a program that has gone just a combined 5-19 the last 2 seasons. Finally it’s extremely difficult to simulate the speed and efficiency that a well run option run offense operates at.

Take a look at our thoughts on Stanford's Season Win Total Odds.

Why Stanford can cover?

Quite simply, the Stanford Cardinal is bigger, stronger, faster, and athletically superior in every area than this Army. The only way that Stanford doesn’t win this game in convincing fashion is if they beat themselves and aren’t mentally prepared to play. This is a well disciplined football team that’s very balanced offensively, and extremely physical defensively. Stanford figures to eventually attain a comfortable lead that will force the Cadets out of their comfort zone. It would be hard to imagine a one-dimensional offense being such as the Cadets being successful versus this Stanford defense. If the Stanford offense doesn’t turn the ball over they should be able to rack up 40 or more points, and exceed 500 yards of total offense versus an overmatched defense.

Final Analysis

Since the start of the 2010 season this is a Stanford program that has been an extremely profitable 11-3 ATS when favored on the road. What’s even more impressive is the Cardinal are a perfect 5-0 SU & ATS in that time span, when they’re a College Football odds favorite of -5.0 or more on the road, and won those 6 games by an average of 32.0 points per game. Army is just 11-24 ATS in their last 35 games as a home underdog.

History over the last 3 seasons certainly doesn’t favor teams in Army’s situation entering this contest. In that time frame home underdogs of 14.5 or more that are coming off an away underdog ATS loss in which they failed to cover by 11.0 or more, versus an opponent coming off a straight up win are 5-19 ATS. I hate to lay this may points anytime, and most especially on the road, but I just can’t see the home team keeping this one close. When it comes to placing my college football picks here, I have the slightest of leans on the road favorite in this spot.

College Football Free Pick: Take Stanford -28.5 over Army.
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