The Army West Point Black Knights will need more than a rebranding to beat Navy, at least in the eyes of Las Vegas oddsmakers.
The Golden Nugget sportsbook in Vegas released its annual way-too-early-to-take-all-that-seriously betting lines for select college football games Friday. ESPN.com has the full list here, but for Army-Navy watchers, the number to know is 13.
That is, Vegas has listed the Midshipmen as 13-point favorites over the Black Knights to extend their rivalry win streak, which now stands at 13 games.
The Golden Nugget had the same line set last summer (Navy won, 17-10) and had Navy as a nine-point favorite before the 2013 game (the Mids won, 34-7). This year’s game is set for Dec. 12 in Philadelphia.
Each team makes one additional appearance on the football gambler’s summer reading list: Navy’s a 14-point underdog for its Oct. 10 trip to Notre Dame, and Penn State is favored to pummel the Black Knights by 28 points in their Oct. 3 showdown at Happy Valley.
A word for the not-serious gambler: The lines don’t predict a final score, per se — for the most part, they exist to encourage an equal amount of wagers on both teams, preventing the sportsbook from losing its collective shirt. Golden Nugget experts don’t necessarily believe Navy will win by 13 points come December, but they think about as many people would bet on a Navy blowout as would bet on Army losing by a touchdown and two field goals.
Air Force doesn’t appear on the list. All three service academies will open with games against teams that you’ll rarely see on a sportsbook’s wall: Army hosts Fordham on Sept. 4 for a West Point version of Friday Night Lights, with Air Force hosting Morgan State and Navy hosting Colgate the next day.