On Saturday the two academies will renew their annual rivalry in Philadelphia. This will be the 111th meeting between the two academies. While this series has been dominated by the Naval Academy for the last few years, this will be the best team that Army has brought into the game since the 1996. Army is also looking for their first win in this annual game since 2001. This series started back in 1890, and has primarily been played in Philadelphia, but has also been played in other locations from New York, to Baltimore. This game has only been played on campus 6 times in it’s history, plus it has been played in Chicago once and at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena one time. This is one game that the entire country can get behind and support, while most Americans will not have rooting interest in this game, it is still a game that deserves the honor of being the final game of the regular season. It is a series steeped in tradition, history and respect.
Navy comes into this game with an 8-3 record and on a 3 game winning streak. But more importantly Navy has an 8 game winning streak over it’s rival. One of the keys to Navy having some success is how Ricky Dobbs does on the field. As the leading passer and rusher, it is vital to Navy’s offense that he set the tone early and make plays happen. The defense will have to make some plays, but as long as Dobbs is allowed to run free, Navy will have a solid chance to win their 9th in a row. Don’t expect this to be a heavy passing attack, the triple option is Navy’s bread and butter and they run it to almost perfection. This game will be a throwback game of the 3 yards and a cloud of dust types.
Army comes in with a winning record for the first time since 1996 and will not have their season end with this game. The Black Knights also run a stout option attack and will need to control the ball and keep Dobbs on the sidelines to have a chance at this game. Unlike Navy, Army has a quarterback leading their passing stats and a RB leading their rushing stats. Quarterback Trent Steelman will probably have to have some passing wrinkles to keep the Navy Defense honest, otherwise they will have trouble doing too much against a good Navy defense.
This will not be a game stocked with NFL caliber talent, but it will be a game that has some of the most outstanding kids who will give themselves for service to our country for 5 years after they graduate. These kids play this game for the pure love of the sport. This game will not decide who has the commander in chief trophy, but it will decided who gets the Thompson cup, which is named after a donor who donated the trophy for this game. Both of these schools will get to enjoy a bowl game, but for these players want to win this game more than anything. This game has bragging rights for every service member around the world, and for that fact, these two teams have a desire to win. But after the game, they will share a mutual respect and pride of being a serviceman.
On a side note, I will be attending this game for the very first time and will get experience the pagentry of this game and get a first hand take of what happens before,during and after the game. So, be sure to check back for my post game report.