117th Army-Navy Game Preview

December 10, 2016

Another college football regular season is in the books.

Or is it?

Can we really conclude the season with made-for-television spectacles put on by the conference commissioners, networks and bowl executives? Yes, the College Football Playoff is set and that’s all that anyone can talk about besides the upcoming Heisman Trophy presentation. But the regular season is not over.

This weekend we take it back to a simpler time, even though to the untrained eye the teams on the field this weekend will have uniforms every bit as flashy as the major conference powers. Even though one of these teams has joined a conference, and actually played in one of those made-for-television spectacles referenced above. And yes, even though the head coaches on the sidelines would be the highest paid Pentagon officials if it worked like that.

The Army-Navy game is only described in clichés, and rightly so. Because every cliché that you can attach to this football game is actually true. The brotherhood. The sportsmanship. The passion. It’s all there. And if you’ve become jaded to what college football has become, for a few hours on the last weekend of the regular season your hope can be restored.

This week, I have brought a special guest on to the blog to make a prediction for this game. Second Lieutenant Becker of the United States Marines, who also happens to be my brother, will represent the final guest pick of the 2016 regular season. I’m both proud and honored to be able to put that designation in front of his name, and also to stand behind others like him in support.

Let’s take a closer look at the 117th Army-Navy game.

117th Army-Navy Game (game in Baltimore, Maryland)

The last time Army beat Navy, the original iPod was less than three months old. To say that the desire to finally beat Navy is boiling over would be quite the understatement. But after 14 years of disappointment, Army may finally have the tools to knock off their arch rivals. The game has gotten considerably tighter over the past few years, going from 34-7 in 2013 to 17-10 in 2014 to a 21-17 thriller last season. And this year, the Black Knights are going bowling following this game, a testament to Jeff Monken’s impact in his three year tenure with the school.

It’s not surprising that these two teams are in the top five nationally in rushing offense, but what is surprising is the turnaround that the Black Knights have had on the defensive end. Monken’s squad is a top 20 defense nationally against the run, allowing just 124 yards per game on the ground. We saw what happened last weekend when Temple, the country’s No. 26 run defense, committed to stopping the run at all costs. Navy was held to under 230 yards rushing for just the second time all season, and both of those games resulted in losses. The game plan is clear: stop Will Worth and the Midshipmen rushing attack, and Navy’s high powered offense is in trouble.

It’s very difficult to pick against the success of Navy, which has had a terrific season despite being embarrassed at home last weekend. And although Army has shown marked improvement in 2016, there were still several games where the Black Knights were severely outmatched. Records fall by the wayside in this one, though. Army doesn’t want to let this slide reach a decade and a half, and they won’t. The Black Knights will finally get the win that has eluded them since 2001.

My Pick: 34-28 Army

Second Lieutenant Becker’s Take: Navy 27, Army 9. I base it on Navy’s impeccable coaching and dominant performances in the last two games. Army-Navy is always competitive thanks to the storied rivalry, but Navy shall prevail and an Army win will continue to only be available on VHS.

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