West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Army Black Knights Pick – Liberty Bowl December 31, 2020

With teams and players dropping out left and right during this bowl season, there was one that was begging for a game to bowl to play in. Their persistence paid off, and the Army Black Knights found a spot in the Liberty Bowl. The Tennessee Volunteers dropped out of the bowl, and Army was waving their hands and stomping their feet.

The bowl committee saw them and invited them to play in the Liberty Bowl. It would have been a shame if an 8-2 team didn’t get to play in a bowl, while teams like Mississippi State, 3-7, went bowling. Army was originally scheduled to play in the Independence Bowl, but they didn’t have a team to play.

Army has to be a big fan of Tennessee football now. If they didn’t drop out of this game, then there would have been nowhere for the Black Knights to go. After winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy with a 10-7 win over the Air Force Falcons, the Black Knights believed their season wasn’t going to be done there.

Certainly, a 8-2 season was going to be enough for a bowl game. Not soon after, Army discovered they might not be playing in a bowl, though. Crisis averted for the Army football program, but they have something else to worry about. Several players on Army are involved in a cheating scandal, dating back to May during a calculus exam.

55 of the 73 players that were caught cheating were athletes, 17 of them members of the football team. Not good. A military academy isn’t going to take cheating lightly, so some players could be facing serious discipline. However, any discipline is going to occur in the future, and Army likely isn’t down anybody. Although, it can serve as a distraction going into the Liberty Bowl.

West Virginia had a mediocre season in the Big 12. They finished with a record of 5-4, and leaned on their defense often this year. If the defense had an off day, it was a likely loss for the Mountaineers. West Virginia is coming off a 42-6 beatdown loss against Iowa State on December 5. Prior to that game, they nearly upset Texas, 17-13, and beat TCU easily, 24-6. Head below for our free West Virginia vs. Army pick on December 31, 2020 in the Liberty Bowl.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Army Black Knights Liberty Bowl Betting Odds:

Spread:

  • WVU -6.5 (-110)
  • Army +6.5 (-110)
Moneyline:

  • WVU -260
  • Army +220
Total:

  • Over 41 (-110)
  • Under 41 (-110)

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West Virginia vs. Army Prediction:

Motivation should not be a problem for Army in this game. They wanted to be in a bowl game more than anyone else it seems, any bowl. However, how much was this team really tested this season? Keep in mind that Army did not have one game against a Power Five opponent in 2020. Because of Covid-19 and their schedule getting reworked, Army didn’t play one program from a Power Five conference.

That will change for Army in the Liberty Bowl finally. The best team that Army played was against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Their defense competed, but the offense failed to generate anything in a 24-10 loss on September 26. The list of bad teams that the Black Knights beat is quite extensive. Morgan State, VMI, Middle Tennessee, LA-Monroe, Abilene Christian, The Citadel, UTSA, and Mercer, along with Navy and Air Force, were some of their opponents.

Tulane wasn’t a bad team, and that was the other school that Army came up short against. The Green Wave defeated Army by a score of 38-12 on November 14. Army has been all defense this season. It hasn’t been a quick score offense like we’ll see from a military academy from time to time.

It’s hard to get a ready on the Army defense because they haven’t played a really good offense this season, but they’ve done everything asked of them. The Black Knights have conceded an average of 271.1 points per game. Their ability to stop the pass has been the best in the FBS. Through ten games, the Black Knights have given up just 149.9 yards per game through the air for top honors in college football. The Mountaineers have far better athletes than Army has seen this season.

However, West Virginia hasn’t scared anyone with their offense. Jarret Doege has been efficient at quarterback, though. He has passed for 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions on 64.2% completions. Maybe that’s a lot better if he was asked to throw the ball more. With West Virginia’s defense, the Mountaineers haven’t needed to score fast.

They’ve conceded 297.2 yards per game and were the one rare Big 12 team to play defense. They led the Big 12 in defense easily, including in yards and points against, 20.4 points a game. The conference gets criticized for not playing defense, but you can’t include West Virginia. The Black Knights will get plenty of money because of their record, but it’s deceptive given who they’ve played. Expect the speed of the Mountaineers to be too much for Army to overcome. I like West Virginia in a 24-14 game.

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The Bet
WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS -6.5
Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of TheSportsGeek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at TheSportsGeek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, and horse racing. Prior to writing for TheSportsGeek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily only at TheSportsGeek.