Say what you want about Michigan-Ohio State and the Iron Bowl, but one of the best college football rivalries returns to Philadelphia this weekend with the annual Army-Navy Game. The two service academy rivals last played in Philadelphia in 2019 when Navy snapped a three-game losing streak to Army after riding a 14-game winning streak in the series. Now, Navy has won two of the last three meetings and is looking for back-to-back wins.
Even with a win, Army (5-6) will not be bowl eligible this season due to two of its victories coming against FCS opponents. Only one win against an FCS school counts toward a team's bowl eligibility win total, unless granted a waiver by the NCAA.
Here's a quick look at this weekend's annual Army-Navy Game.
Army vs. Navy
When Army Has the Ball
Army has managed to spread the ball around well on the ground this season with senior quarterback Tyhier Tyler leading the team with 601 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Tyler averages five yards per carry and will continue to be Army's first option for carrying the football. He has reached the century rushing mark in two of the last three games and is coming off a three-touchdown performance in a rout of UMass.
Army owns the nation's second-leading rushing offense. Only Air Force averaged more rushing yards per game this season than the Black Knights, as they were the only schools to average over 300 rushing yards per game. Navy has done well against the run, though, allowing just an average of 85.6 rushing yards per game, which is fourth-best in the nation (and two schools with a better rushing defense are College Football Playoff teams Georgia and Michigan).
When Navy Has the Ball
Like their service academy counterparts, Navy lives by the way of the running game. The Midshipmen have the nation's seventh-ranked rushing offense with an average of 239.6 rushing yards per game. In their most recent game played, an upset of UCF, Navy rushed for 248 yards to account for all of its offense. Navy attempted just one pass against UCF and controlled the clock for just under 40 minutes. But don't expect Navy to dominate the time of possession like that against Army.
Navy's rushing attack is led by fullback Daba Fofana, who has rushed for 749 yards and six touchdowns this season. Wide receiver Maquel Haywood is the team's second-leading rusher with 451 yards. Quarterback Tai Lavatai has added 309 yards and five rushing touchdowns, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury in late October so Xavier Arline (274 yds., 3 TDs on the ground) is likely to get another start.
If there is one thing you can count on when the Army-Navy Game is played, it is that it will be the most efficient game of the season that keeps the clock running. Such is to be expected with the heavy reliance on the running game by both sides. That means maximizing possessions will be the key to victory. Navy has had an encouraging end to an otherwise disappointing season, but so has Army. Army's offense has had just a bit more confidence against lesser opponents, while Navy has given Notre Dame a run and scored an upset of UCF. This is a tough one to call, but it may be tempting to take the under no matter how you look at it.
Prediction: Army 17, Navy 13
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