Get Ready for Rivalry Games: 5 Quick Hits on the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy

Get Ready for Rivalry Games: 5 Quick Hits on the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy
Air Force Falcons celebrate with the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy after defeating the Army West Point Black Knights on Nov. 5, 2022, at Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Trevor Cokley/Air Force)

The battle for service academy football bragging rights begins Oct. 21 in Annapolis, Md. – plenty of time for casual fans to get up to speed on the current season, or for hard-core fanatics to dive deeper into their team’s matchup before the alumni tailgate.

 

Here are five quick hits on the 2023 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy rivalry, which features three schools, three games, and one big hunk of hardware.

 

In Annapolis for this weekend’s contest, or heading to an upcoming academy showdown? Skip to the end and find out how you can meet up with MOAA!

 

1. Mark Your Calendars

The Air Force Falcons will visit the Navy Midshipmen on Oct. 21 at noon Eastern (TV: CBS, Paramount+). Two weeks later, the Falcons host the Army West Point Black Knights at Empower Field, home of the NFL’s Denver Broncos, on Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern (12:30 p.m. Mountain; TV: CBS Sports Network, Paramount+). The series concludes with the Army-Navy game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., home of the NFL’s New England Patriots, on Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. Eastern (TV: CBS, Paramount+).


This will mark the third straight season two of the rivalry games take place in off-campus locations – Army and Air Force squared off in Arlington, Texas, in 2021 and 2022, with the Black Knights winning the first contest 21-14 in overtime and the Falcons prevailing 13-7 last season.

 

2. Fly. Fight. Win.

The Falcons have been doing a lot of prevailing this season – Air Force stands at a perfect 6-0, one of only 11 unbeaten top-tier college football teams entering this weekend’s contests. The performance earned the Falcons the No. 22 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll, the first time they’ve been ranked by the AP since 2019.

 

How has Air Force racked up its record? With success on the ground: The Falcons led all of major college football with 2,005 team rushing yards on the season after last week’s games, good for 334.2 yards per contest. That’s more than 80 yards ahead of Liberty University in the second spot and almost 100 more per game than the next service academy on the list (Navy, 5th, 235.7).

 

The Falcons also boast impressive discipline – tied with Michigan for best in the nation with just 16 penalties on the year, although the Wolverines have played one more game (Army’s fourth, with only 20 in six games).

 

The bad news for Air Force fans: An injury to starting quarterback Zac Larrier, who ranks second among top-tier college football quarterbacks this season with 473 rushing yards.

 

3. What to Watch for This Weekend

While the Falcons head to Annapolis with momentum, the hosts aren’t exactly cooled off – Navy stands at 3-3 on the year after two straight victories, the last coming via a 14-0 shutout at Charlotte on Oct. 14.

 

Navy’s only other game against a ranked opponent didn’t go well for the Mids – a 42-3 opening-week drubbing in Ireland against Notre Dame. They will benefit from home cooking (2-1 in Annapolis in 2023), as the Falcons will be making their first and only trip to the Eastern time zone this regular season.

 

Navy may also get a bit of a boost from some very special guests: Heisman Trophy- and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Roger Staubach (Class of 1965) and 2023 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Paul Johnson, whose six seasons as Navy head coach resulted in an 11-1 record against service academies (6-0 versus Army) and five bowl appearances.

 

Army fans, take note: You’ll be able to catch your rivals in action before tuning in to see the Black Knights travel to LSU for a 7:30 p.m. Eastern showdown with the Tigers (TV: SEC Network, ESPN+).

 

4. Trophy Talk

Air Force defends the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy this season after claiming it in 2022 with low-scoring wins over Navy (13-10) and Army (13-7). It marked the school’s first trophy win since 2016 – Army won the hardware in 2020 and kept it in 2021 after a three-way tie, and Navy last held it in 2019.

 

While the rivalry may not have the history of Army-Navy, which dates to 1890, the three schools have met on the gridiron every season since the trophy was established in 1972. That run of more than half a century for a multi-team rivalry is unique in college football, especially as none of the teams play in the same conference … not yet, anyway.

 

Learn more from MOAA about the trophy at this link.

 

5. Meet Up With MOAA!

MOAA is a proud sponsor of our service academy alumni groups – we don’t play favorites! MOAA leadership and staff will be a part of pregame festivities surrounding this year’s Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy contests. Visit with us at the events below and enter to win a variety of prizes!

 

Note: All times local. Events may sell out; contact the organizers directly via the links below to be added to any walk-up/waitlist availability. 

 

Air Force vs. Navy (Annapolis, Md.): Air Force Association of Graduates Social at Guinness Open Gate Brewery

 

Army vs. Air Force (Denver): Air Force Association of Graduates Tailgate (Empower Field at Mile High)

  • When: Saturday, Nov. 4, 9:30 a.m.-Noon
  • Registration: Required. Learn more here.

 

Army vs. Air Force (Denver): The West Point Societies of Denver and the Pikes Peak Region Tailgate at Mile High Station and Ironworks

  • When: Saturday, Nov. 4, 8:30 a.m.-Noon
  • Registration: Required. Learn more here.

 

Army vs. Navy  (Foxborough, Mass.): West Point Association of Graduates Tailgate at Six String Grill & Stage 

  • When: Saturday, Dec. 9, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Registration: Required. Learn more here.

 

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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