Posted on December 4, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Every school wants to win a national championship or at least a conference championship. For most, it will not happen, but every team has an opportunity to do one thing—beat their rival. The U.S. Military Academy (Army) and the Naval Academy (Navy) are no different. But unlike the majority of rivals, they don’t get a trophy for winning their annual game.
No, to get the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, the Service Academies have to beat both of their rivals—the other two Academies. The Air Force Academy is the current holder of the trophy and has won it the most (20) in the 45-year history of the trophy followed by Navy (15).
Army has won it six times (and it was shared four times). This year, for the first time in 21 years, Army is expected to bring the trophy home. But Navy, of course, wouldn’t mind bringing it back to Annapolis either.
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Navy won a close one over Air Force back in October 48-45. Army took down Air Force in November 21-0. This weekend the two face each other for the 118th time. Navy leads the series 60-50-7, but Army won last year, 21-17.
Navy would love to start another streak after seeing Army bring the longest one in the history of the rivalry to an end last year (14; 2002-2015). But Army wouldn’t mind starting one of their own.
So—who’s going to win?
The Army-Navy game is always an interesting one to watch because it features two teams playing an old-school style of football at a very high level. Both run what is called a triple option offense, which is one that relies heavily on running the ball.
As it turns out, both teams are very good at running the ball. Army has the top-ranked run game in the country (368.1 yards/game) followed by Navy (347.5 yards/game). When need be, Navy is a little better at passing (91.2 yards/game) than Army (30.5 yards/game).
When it comes to the offenses, Army has a slight advantage in the run game, but if used properly, Navy’s passing game could have a significant impact on the game. But what this one will come down to is who can stop the run and who will make the fewest mistakes.
Army’s defense (21.6 points/game allowed) has done a better job against opponents than Navy’s has this year (29.2). Their passing game helps them generate more offense than Army does, but the commit more turnovers as well—so they need to do so to remain competitive in games.
This year, they’ve been less competitive than in year’s past. But they still had a good enough record to become bowl eligible (6-5). The Midshipmen did prove they can play with a run-oriented team when they faced Notre Dame last month. But they still lost to Notre Dame, 24-17.
Expect this game to be a close, hard-fought one like it always is. But also expect Army’s senior quarterback, Ahmad Bradshaw, to end his career in style. Navy is favored by three. Take Army and the points.