Sandwiched between the end of every college football season and the start of the college football playoff is the storied Army-Navy game. It is not a bowl game, nor does it have any direct bearing on the National Championship. But it is a longstanding tradition that remains a polarizing event for sports bettors. And unlike other single matchups in its class, Army-Navy odds don't exist in this constant state of flux, because you know which two teams will be competing.
In reality, then, this head-to-head is like an unofficial bowl game. Between the attention it draws and the wagering popularity, it might even exceed interest in certain actual bowl games. So if you're an avid NCAA football bettor, you should absolutely have this game in your gambling arsenal—after you check out our full-scale breakdown of everything you need to know about it, of course.
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While every online sportsbook offers Army-Navy odds, this doesn't mean that you should just decide to use one at random. Other things go into your betting experience, and it's important you find a bookie that meets all your needs.
Among the top factors to consider is how early the Army-Navy spread is posted. Is it the week before the game? Sooner than that? The earlier they get published, the better off you'll be. Beyond that, you want to get in bed with a sportsbook that promises great customer service, fast transactions, and attractive promotional programs, both for new and returning customers.
Don't worry if you don't have the time to search for a gambling spot on your own. We've done the heavy lifting for you. Below is our list of the best online sportsbooks not just for Army-Navy lines, but for all college football spreads in general:
College Football Army-Navy Odds
The Army-Navy game differs from college football bowl games because you know who's going to be in it before the season begins. This technically opens the door for future lines well in advance. And yet, sportsbooks don't offer them more than a week or two out of the actual game.
What gives? Many things. For starters, this game is considered a regular-season affair, significant only for its enduring rivalry between the Army and Navy and for the bragging rights it gives for an entire year. Sportsbooks aren't going to treat it any differently from other regular-season contests, and lines for those tilts aren't offered until each team wraps up their previous week's matchup.
It's the same story with the Army-Navy showdown. You won't get the betting odds much further out than a week or so. And because there are only two potential teams involved, you won't have the opportunity to capitalize on any futures. That works for the college football playoff and National Championship, when the field is much larger, comprising basically every participating Division I squad in college football.
When the Army-Navy lines do become available, though, you can be sure we'll have them ready for you.
Army-Navy Game Odds
The odds were last updated on April 15, 2021:
|Army Black Knights||+325||+330||+325|
|United States Military Academy (Navy)||-430||-430||-440|
Gamblers who really want to invest in big-picture lines can pivot to college football playoff futures and National Championship futures. Those usually available before the regular season even starts and will be updated as the schedule unfolds.
Of course, the upcoming college football season changes the calculus for every bettor, whether they're looking to invest in futures, the Army-Navy matchup, bowl games or eventually, the National Championship. The coronavirus pandemic has left everything hanging in the balance, with most unsure whether the season will be delayed or, worse, fail to happen at all.
Certain conferences have already kicked the can down the road. Schools in the Big 10 and Pac-12, for example, have already agreed to postpone their schedules until at least the spring. They will not be the last to do so. And depending on what the rest of the teams do, it will drastically alter the availability of all college football betting.
Let's say the season isn't delayed. In that case, every program that has moved its games until the spring will find themselves outside contention for bowl games. On the flip side, if the entire NCAA schedule is moved back, teams will have to worry about key players opting out of a late start-up should they have aspirations of entering the 2021 NFL draft. Some prospects have already declined to play this year no matter what, and it's tough to blame them. They don't want to risk injury so close to their jump into the pros and the payday it promises.
What does this mean for the Army-Navy game? Well, quite frankly, everything. They won't be able to play if the season is canceled. If it is merely delayed, there's also a chance the rosters for each could look drastically different depending on what upperclassmen—juniors and seniors—decided to do.
At the very least, the lines for this game will be in flux until the NCAA reaches a season consensus. Again: Odds for the Army-Navy meetup are never released too far in advance, but they'll be permanently on hold until college football has a concrete plan in place.
The Importance on the Army-Navy Game
Tradition is the lifeblood of the Army-Navy game.
It first began in November of 1890—you read that correctly—and has been an end-of-schedule staple ever since.
Though there are no official stakes attached to this matchup, it is promoted as a game that "has come to emboyd the spirit of the interservice rivalry of the United States Armed forces." The winner of each game receives the Secretary's Trophy and, obviously, a leg up over the other in the overall standings.
Currently, the game is held the Saturday after the FBS Conference Championship. While it has been held in numerous locations over the past many years, it usually takes place in some combination of areas in Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore Washington.
Army-Navy Historical Results
Just so you get a feel for who has historically held the edge, let's run through some fast facts about the Army-Navy game.
The Navy currently leads the all-time series with 61 victories. By contrast, the Army has 52 wins. There have also been seven ties.
Largest Army-Navy Victory
This honor also belongs to the Navy. They shutout the Army in 1973 by the whopping final score of 51-0.
Longest Army-Navy Win Streak
Surprise, surprise: The Navy wins out again. They won every game between these two programs from 2002 through 2015—which, just so we're clear, is absolutely ridiculous.
Most Recent Army-Navy Results
Another notch under the Navy's belt here. They won 31-7 the last times these two teams met.
For anyone who thinks this doesn't matter, please reconsider. Historical college football results don't usually matter all that much since rosters change so much on a one- to four-year basis. Bad teams can be great and then bad again in the span of a half-decade.
The outlook is different for the Army-Navy game. The Navy has traditionally placed more of an emphasis on their football program, so it makes sense that, over the past quarter-century or so, they've run the table of this rivalry. Please keep this in mind as you look at the Army-Navy betting lines every season.
Can the Army and Navy Appear in Other Bowl Games?
This is often a point of confusion for college football bettors. The Army-Navy game is viewed as the apex of each team's season, so it feels like they're both always scheduled to be done after it's over. That's not entirely.
The Army-Navy game actually signals the end of the college football regular season. They still have the chance to qualify for bowl games, including those involved in the college football playoff, if they're good enough.
Indeed, both the Army and Navy are rarely on the radar of the college football playoff. But there are plenty of alternative bowl games, each one carrying larger national recognition than the Army-Navy tilt itself. The list of the main bowl games includes:
- Peach Bowl*
- Sugar Bowl*
- Orange Bowl*
- Fiesta Bowl*
- Cotton Bowl*
- Rose Bowl*
- Celebration Bowl
- Las Vegas Bowl
- Holiday Bowl
- Citrus Bowl
- Alamo Bowl
- Music City Bowl
- Belk Bowl
- Outback Bowl
The asterisks denote bowl games that make up the college football playoff on a rolling basis, otherwise known as the New Year's Six. Two of them will be used to determine who appears in the National Championship every year. The other bowl games are considered secondary feats—like minor-league championships.
In all probability, the Army and Navy will end their seasons facing off against one another. But it doesn't have to be that way. If one of them is particularly good one year—sneaking their way into the top-25 rankings—then it's imperative you make your bets knowing that one of them has the opportunity to play in a higher-stakes game.
Also, one of them is in contention for a top-25 national spot, that's your clue to check out their college football playoff futures sometime before the NCAA rankings committee makes their decision on who will enter the year-end bracket.