Go ____, Beat ____! Get Ready for This Year’s Army-Navy Showdown

Go ____, Beat ____! Get Ready for This Year’s Army-Navy Showdown
Photos via Army, Navy Athletics. Photo illustration by John Harman/MOAA

Whether you are ready for some serious football or hoping to enjoy some service academy pageantry (Flyovers! Cool uniforms! March-ons! Mascots!), Saturday’s Army-Navy clash will meet the mission.

 

MOAA won’t pick a winner, but we can offer some basics on the contest, get late-arriving fans up to speed on the season so far, and provide a bevy of links for football fanatics, eager to spend a few hours immersed in rivalry lore and matchup breakdowns before kickoff.

 

Here’s what to know before the big game:

 

The Basics

  • What: Army (5-6) vs. Navy (5-6, 4-4 American Athletic Conference) for the 124th time (Navy leads the series 62-54-7).
  • When: Kickoff just after 3 p.m. Eastern. March-ons begin with the Midshipmen at 12:10 p.m.
  • Where: Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. – the first time the game has been played in New England, and the first leg of a five-city tour taking the game to stadiums in or near Washington, D.C. (2024), Baltimore (2025), New York City (2026), and Philadelphia (2027).
  • Where Else: CBS will air the game nationally (coverage begins at 2:30 p.m.); it will stream on Paramount+. CBS Sports Network will march-ons and other pregame events from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ESPN’s College GameDay will air from outside Gillette Stadium (10 a.m.-noon).

 

Find MOAA at the Game!

In addition to sponsoring the sold-out West Point Association of Graduates tailgate event prior to kickoff, MOAA will have an eight-person “street team” on site. Find us and pick up a free “GO ARMY” or “GO NAVY” button before entering Gillette Stadium, and don’t forget to tag #MOAA in your gameday social media posts!

The Stakes

A win gives Army not just bragging rights, but a big hunk of hardware – the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy would make its way to West Point, thanks to Army’s 23-3 win over Air Force on Nov. 4. A Navy win means a three-way tie and Air Force keeps the trophy in Colorado Springs.

 

(Unlike Saturday’s teams, Air Force will go bowling this season, facing James Madison in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23 in Fort Worth, Texas.)

 

The Season So Far

  • Navy will wrap up the year’s longest regular season in college football, which began with an Aug. 26 drubbing by Notre Dame in Ireland. The Midshipmen ran their record to 5-5 with a 10-0 shutout of East Carolina in Annapolis on Nov. 18, but then fell hard to Southern Methodist University 59-14 on Nov. 25 to lose their chance at a bowl berth under first-year head coach Brian Newberry.
  • Army enters Saturday’s showdown on a three-game win streak … which followed a five-game losing streak. The win over Air Force righted the ship for head coach Jeff Monken’s Black Knights, who beat Navy 20-17 last year in the rivalry’s first overtime game.

 

The Gear

Army’s uniforms honor the 3rd Infantry Division and its soldiers’ role in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Learn more, and see plenty of photos, at this link.

 

Navy’s gear will pay tribute to submariners, boasting plenty of “Eclipse Navy” – Under Armour’s “darkest shade of navy blue,” per the Navy uniform website.

 

 

The Matchup

The teams’ identical 5-6 records aren’t the only way they are evenly matched. Army’s piled up about 16 more yards per game than Navy (315.7 to 299.5), but has allowed about seven more yards per game (369.2 to 362.3). Navy’s allowed nearly one more point per game (22.91, to Army’s 22.0) and scored 18.2 per contest, compared with Army’s 20.82.

 

Navy and Penn State are the only schools with three shutouts this season, with the Mids’ defense ranking third in the red zone (71% opponent scoring average) and tied for first with 14 fumbles recovered. Army’s offense features dual-threat quarterback Bryson Dailey, a junior who led the team in rushing (817 yards) and passing (859 yards) as the Black Knights moved away from its traditional triple option attack. Until recently, anyway.

 

Navy’s offense is led by sophomore fullback Alex Tacza, whose 6.19 yards per carry ranks 22nd in the country. The Midshipmen also moved away from the triple option this year, but that was far from the only offensive upheaval – Navy’s one of four Football Bowl Subdivision schools to win games with three different starting quarterbacks.

 

Army’s not-so-secret weapon may come on special teams – the Black Knights have blocked two punts and two kicks, rank first in the nation in punt returns (22 yards per return), and place eighth in kickoff return coverage, allowing a bit more than 15 yards per try.

 

The Rest

 

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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and MOAA.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley