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Liberty Bowl Picks & Odds: Favored Navy Won 10 Games for First Time Since 2015

Navy football team running onto the field
Navy has covered four of its last five games and six of eight on the year. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann [public domain].
  • Navy is a 2.5-point favorite over Kansas State in this year’s Liberty Bowl
  • The Midshipmen won 10 games for the first time since 2015
  • Kansas State finished 8-4 in Chris Klieman’s debut year, including a massive upset over playoff-bound Oklahoma

Two teams coming off of exciting seasons will look to cap off 2019 with a big Liberty Bowl victory. The Kansas State vs Navy odds have the Midshipmen listed as a 2.5-point favorite in the first-ever meeting between the two programs, and this game may be the most underrated matchup of bowl season.

Kansas State Wildcats vs Navy Midshipmen Odds

Team Spread at BetOnline Moneyline Total
Kansas State Wildcats +2.5 (-110) +115 O 52 (-110)
Navy Midshipmen -2.5 (-110) -135 U 52 (-110)

Odds taken Dec. 20

Strong Debut Season for Chris Klieman

The Wildcats opened the Chris Klieman tenure on a strong note. They finished 8-4 (5-4), and pulled off a 48-41 upset of Oklahoma that, at the time, shook up the College Football Playoff Picture. 

This team was solid offensively, but it was the defense that led Kansas State in 2019. They ranked 28th in scoring defense (21.5 points per game), but it was there success on third down that set them apart. The Wildcats were first in the nation in third down defense, with an opponent conversion rate of just 25.9%.

Three players registered two or more interceptions for the Wildcats, with AJ Parker (3), Da’Quan Patton (2) and Denzel Goolsby (2) anchoring the back end. 

Up front, Wyatt Hubert led the way with seven sacks in 2019.

The offense, while not electric, had its bright spots. Skylar Thompson was a strong dual-threat at quarterback, throwing for 2,191 yards and 12 touchdowns, and rushing for 402 yards and six touchdowns. 

Running backs James Gilbert and Jordon Brown played big roles as well, with 698 and 367 yards respectively.

Midshipmen Back to Winning Ways

The Midshipmen, after a couple of down years, reached the ten-win mark in 2019. They were hot down the stretch, winning five of their last 6. 

They ranked 12th nationally in scoring offense (38.6 points per game), 20th nationally in total offense (458.7 yards per game), and led the nation with 363.7 rush yards per game. The dominance of that is displayed by the fact that the country’s second-ranked rush offense averaged under 300.

Malcolm Perry lit up the stat sheet this season. He threw for just 1,027 yards and six touchdowns, but was electric as a runner, gaining 1,804 yards and reaching paydirt on 21 occasions.

He wasn’t alone in powering the Navy run game. Jamale Carothers had 712 yards and 14 scores, and Nelson Smith added 570 yards and seven touchdowns of his own.

On the defensive side of the ball, it was another solid season. Ken Niumatalolo’s team finished 22nd in total defense (326.2 yards per game), 17th in rush defense (110.8 yards per game), and 38th in scoring defense (22.8)

Linebacker Diego Fagot fueled this unit in the middle. He racked up 93 tackles, 3.5 sacks, along with a forced fumble and an interception he returned for a touchdown.

He was one of the nine players on the Navy defense that recorded an interception in 2019. 

Meanwhile, Jacob Springer was putting pressure on opposing offenses. The linebacker sacked the quarterback eight times in 2019, and forced three fumbles as well.

What’s the Best Bet?

This game should be a tremendous, exciting one, but it certainly has the “Under” painted all over it. Both of these teams run the ball a ton and play solid defense, and they have a track record that points to the “Under”. 

The total finished “Over” in just seven of Navy’s 12 games, barely over .500. In Kansas State games, the total finished “Over” in only three games all year. The two squads combined to finish “Over” in only 41% of games in 2019.

Pick: U 52 (-110)

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