It's that time of the year again for America to tune in to one of the best annual traditions that sports have to offer. No, not college football players opting out of bowl games and coaches getting mega contracts with new schools. We're talking about the Army-Navy Game, which returns to a neutral field this season with a stop in MetLife Stadium.
Army and Navy will line up for one of college football's best rivalries this weekend as mirror opposites of each other. Army is 8-3 and Navy is 3-8, but you can always throw the records out in this one because the two service academies play very much the same style of football and the clock will be running for the majority of the game as a result.
Army has enjoyed long-awaited success in this rivalry with four wins in the last five meetings, including last season's 15-0 victory in a game played on Army's campus in West Point due to the pandemic's impact on the college football world. Army will look for its first win in an Army-Navy Game played in New Jersey since 1993, as Navy has won the last two meetings in East Rutherford.
Army West Point vs. Navy
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
Spread: Army -7.5
When Army West Point Has the Ball
You may not be too shocked to learn that Army owns the nation's second-best rushing offense this season. Army was one of two teams to average at least 300 rushing yards per game this season, with the only team with more being Air Force. Army averages 4.95 rushing yards per attempt, and the Black Knights have scored 43 of their 53 offensive touchdowns on the ground this season. Senior quarterback Christian Anderson has led the attack with 525 rushing yards and 545 passing yards this season, but Army has distributed the ball well on offense to spread the production around.
Tyrell Robinson has been a workhorse for Army with a team-high 582 rushing yards but just three touchdowns. Junior Jakobi Buchanan leads Army with 11 rushing touchdowns, including three in Army's last game two weeks ago against Liberty in a 31-16 win. Buchanan has been the big red zone go-to option with all 11 of his touchdown runs coming inside the red zone.
The Army-Navy Game doesn't typically lend itself to a high-scoring contest, but Navy's defense has been as porous as it has been in a long time this season. Navy has given up 29.6 points per game this season (92nd in the nation in scoring defense). But Navy did hold Cincinnati to 27 points in a 27-20 scare of the College Football Playoff-bound Bearcats.
When Navy Has the Ball
Like its West Point counterparts, Navy's running game is the life of the Navy offense. The Midshipmen averaged 229.18 rushing yards per game this season, but their touchdown production is far off the track Army has been on this season. Navy's offense has struggled all season long and has scored just 17 rushing touchdowns this year. Navy did end its conference schedule on a more positive note with 35 points in a loss to East Carolina and 38 points in a win at Temple. Keeping that going against Army should be a different story though.
Isaac Ruoss leads the Midshipmen with 608 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Tai Lavatai also has five rushing touchdowns, but Navy will keep the ball mostly in the hands of its fullbacks and running backs. If they gained some confidence in the last two games, the Midshipmen could manage to trade sustained drives with Army.
Army once was the team trying to keep up with Navy in this annual rivalry, but the Black Knights have become the more dependable team this time of the year. Navy's struggles may be minimized this week in an even matchup with Army, but the Black Knights have the ability to add a bit more punch to their drives, and their defense is much more suited for this type of game. Once again, Army gets to sing second.
Prediction: Army West Point 17, Navy 13
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