The traditional Army-Navy football game returns to Philadelphia Saturday with a few wrinkles for its 120th year. One notable new change? Football fans will be able to bet from the stands thanks to online sports betting in Pennsylvania.
The game is the last non-bowl game in college football and is nationally televised on CBS. About 70,000 fans fit in the stadium, home to the Eagles.
Exciting action off the field
Lisa Johnson, a spokeswoman for Rush Street Interactive, the operator of BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse.com, said much of the betting interest is focused on the Army-Navy spread, which currently favors Navy by 11 points.
She said 85% of tickets are backing the Midshipman. Navy is just 3-7 against the spread in the Army-Navy contests during the past decade, she added. However, the Navy squad is currently ranked 23rd in the country with a 9-2 record. Army, on the other hand, missed out on a bowl game with its 5-7 record.
Both teams have lots on the line. Navy leads the series 60 – 52 – 7 but has lost during the last three meetings.
There is another trend too.
“The Navy vs. Army over/under has become a popular trend in recent years as 13 years in a row the under has hit. This year the under is set at 40.5, and although it is still early, the under is seeing 60% of bets.”
SugarHouse plans to run special odds boosts on in-game events and parlay boosts in the Pennsylvania market.
FanDuel and DraftKings agree on odds, with both spreads set at 10.5 points and their total at 40.5, as of Wednesday.
Presidents at Army-Navy games
On the historical side, President Donald Trump plans to be at the game.
He’s the 10th sitting president to attend, and the first commander-in-chief facing impeachment while at the game. Trump has attended the contest before both as president and as president-elect.
The presidential tradition of attending the Army-Navy contest began in 1901 with Teddy Roosevelt.
The tradition continued with the following presidents all attending the game over the years:
- Woodrow Wilson
- Calvin Coolidge
- Harry S. Truman
- John F. Kennedy
- Gerald Ford
- Bill Clinton
- George W. Bush
- Barack Obama
Wilson began the tradition of at halftime switching which side of the stadium the president sat on, a custom which continues today. Kennedy started the on-and-off tradition of participating in the coin toss at the outset of the game. Bush once gave the Navy Midshipman a pep talk.
While it isn’t the highest-profile game of the typical college season, the Army-Navy contest always has history on its side. Of course, having Trump at the game on Saturday could change the odds for its profile this year.