For Army and Navy, a lot of expectations might not have been met this season. Neither team will be going to a bowl game, both squads lost to Air Force, and the Black Knights are 5-6 while the Midshipmen are 4-7.
Whatever disappointments may have transpired during the season get pushed aside for this game, though.
Saturday marks the 123rd meeting between Army and Navy. The Midshipmen lead the series 62-53-7 and have won two of the previous three. And there may be no Commanders-in-Chief trophy to play for this time (Air Force holds it after beating both teams), but bragging rights and pride are obviously still on the line.
That’s what makes this game so meaningful. Not to mention gritty.
Matched with all of that are two of the most run-heavy programs in college football. Army ranks second in the nation with 304.4 yards per game and Navy is seventh (239.5 YPG), a number that also leads the AAC.
These all create the perfect recipe for the under. College football odds have the total for this game at 32.5. If it does go under, it’ll be the 17th consecutive time in this matchup:
Defenses clearly step up in this game, and for the most part, Navy’s has been stout this season. It’s what allowed the Midshipmen to pull off their upset over then No. 17-ranked UCF on Nov. 19, their most recent game. Their 85.6 rushing YPG allowed rank fourth in the nation and could give the Black Knights some issues. Army, on the other hand, allows 193.5 rushing YPG.
However, the Black Knights have stepped up in big games. Despite the sub-.500 record, they made their toughest opponents earn their victories. In Week 2, Army took UTSA to overtime before falling by a field goal. They lost to Troy 10-9 on Nov. 12 and held a 9-0 lead at the half. Both of those teams are ranked in the top 25 and finished the regular season 11-2. Army is coming off a two-game win streak over UMass and UConn.
Like I already mentioned, Navy has a quality win on its resume with the defeat over Central Florida. The week prior, the Midshipmen’s late comeback fell short in a 35-32 loss to Notre Dame. They also played Cincinnati tough in 20-10 loss the week before. Those three games came with backup quarterback Xavier Arline leading the triple option.
Arline replaced Tai Lavatai, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Temple on Oct. 29. This will be familiar territory for Arline as he started in the 2020 meeting — a 15-0 Army win.
A revenge spot for the junior signal-caller. He’ll need his defense to help him out.
Behind Army’s dominant rushing attack are nine guys who average at least 20 YPG on the ground. Tyrell Robinson paces the team with 64.20 YPG and quarterback Tyhier Tyler is second (60.10).
Navy’s rush defense is good all right, but I don’t think it’s faced a plethora of weapons on the ground like this. Of course, it’s shaping up to be the usual Army-Navy slugfest. And it wouldn’t be incomplete without the always unique uniforms:
With all of the traditions and history, the FBS standalone game in between conference championship weekend and the start of bowl games provides us with something a little more than football.