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Army-Navy betting: Why “Academy Unders” is one of the best bets in sports

The history of academy football is filled with tradition, ceremony, and not a lot of scoring.

 East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Navy Midshipmen wide receiver Mychal Cooper and linebacker Tyler Fletcher celebrate after a 17-13 win against the Army Black Knights in the 122nd Army-Navy game. Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Army-Navy day, and if you’ve bet the over in Saturday’s matchup, some might question your sanity. The Academy games — between Army, Navy, and Air Force — are a notoriously low-scoring group each year. To put it into numbers: since 2005, the under is 42-9-1 when Army, Navy and Air Force play each other. Army-Navy is 16-0 on the under over the last 16 times the game has been played.

Today’s total is set at 32 at DraftKings Sportsbook, and 53% of the betting public has put their money on the under. So why is this such a solid bet?

All three teams are notorious for running some form of triple-option football, which means that their defenses are well-versed in what exactly that offense looks like and how to stop it. The triple-option often results in running the ball in the military academies’ pass-shy offenses, which eats up the clock and often leads to lower-scoring games — particularly when they’re facing defenses who don’t struggle with the triple-option, like each other.

Army has completed just 40 passes this entire season for under 1,000 yards. Navy has completed 53 for 1,005 yards, and Air Force has completed 37 for under 1,000. All three teams’ completion percentages are below 50. However, Navy has six players who have added over 200 rushing yards this season, and Army has seven with the same statistic.

Air Force beat both Army and Navy this season, allowing Army to score just seven points and Navy 10. AF scored 13 in both of those games. Navy enters as 2.5-point favorites vs. Army on Saturday.