For many service academy football faithful, the season begins and ends on one Saturday in December. But for others, including the tens of thousands expected to pack a baseball stadium in Texas this weekend, that calendar has a few more dates on it.
On Nov. 5, the Army West Point Black Knights will take on the Air Force Falcons in their annual showdown, now dubbed the Commanders’ Classic. It’s the midway point in the year’s three-way academy rivalry, which began in October in Colorado Springs, Colo., and ends next month in Philadelphia.
Not up to speed on the academy gridiron? Here’s what you need to know:
The basics: For the second straight year, Army and Air Force will face off at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, home of pro baseball’s Texas Rangers. The inaugural Commanders’ Classic saw the Black Knights outlast the Falcons 21-14 in overtime at the same park.
The Lockheed Martin-sponsored event will kick off at 10:30 a.m. Arlington time (11:30 a.m. Eastern). It’ll air on CBS television and stream on Paramount+.
The trophy: The classic has its own trophy, but the teams have their eye on more established hardware -- pictured here with MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret).
An Air Force win secures the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the Falcons, who defeated the Navy Midshipmen 13-10 on Oct. 1 in Colorado Springs; an Army win guarantees the Black Knights at least a share of the trophy, which would be enough to keep it at West Point for at least another year.
The history: Air Force leads the all-time series 37-18-1. Last year’s game was the first played at a neutral site since the first three of the series: A 13-13 tie at Yankee Stadium in 1959, and Air Force wins in 1963 and 1965 at Chicago’s Soldier Field. The teams will face off at Empower Field, home of the NFL’s Denver Broncos, in 2023.
The matchup: Don’t expect an aerial assault – Air Force (5-3) leads the nation in rushing offense with 336.8 yards per game, with Army a close second (334.6) and nobody else within striking distance (Ole Miss is third at 267.4). Army (3-4) allows more than 212 yards on the ground per game, which puts the Black Knights 126th out of 131 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) squads. Army does have momentum, however, scoring more than 40 points in its last two games, both victories.
The next ones: Army faces Navy on Dec. 10 in Philadelphia. It’s the 123rd edition of the rivalry, with Navy holding a 62-53-7 edge. Navy has its own big-stadium showdown in November, facing Notre Dame at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, on Nov. 12.
If you’re heading to the Navy-Notre Dame clash or the Army-Navy showdown, be on the lookout for Team MOAA. Help us spread the word to prospective members!
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