After having to suffer through the tears and agony of having to sing first for 14 straight years, Army West Point's football players finally got a chance to celebrate a victory against their rivals from Annapolis with one of the best season-long goals college football has to offer — singing second. The mission to be the second service academy to sing their alma mater after the Army-Navy Game is one of the best traditions in the sport and it truly fuels the rivalry from both sides.
This year, Army looks to sing second for a second straight year for the first time since a five-game winning streak from 1992-96. Since then, Navy has held the upper hand in the series with 17 wins in the last 20 seasons. As the series shifts back to Philadelphia after a one-year stop in Baltimore, Navy looks to keep their winning streak in the series in Philly going strong after 10 consecutive Army-Navy Games played in the City of Brotherly Love.
Army vs. Navy (Philadelphia)
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Navy -3.5
Three Things to Watch
1. The most time-efficient game in college football
Think college football games can take too long to play? That likely will not be the case with the Army-Navy Game. Forget about teams going up-tempo and getting involved in high-scoring affairs here. When Army and Navy get together, it is all about those option offenses that keep the clock moving. Army and Navy own the nation's top two rushing offenses (and Air Force is not far behind at No. 4). Army is the only team in the country with more than 4,000 rushing yards this season (for now), but Navy should join them with 2,822 coming into the game. Not surprisingly, both academies have the quarterback lead the way with Ahmad Bradshaw of Army rushing for 1,472 yards and 11 touchdowns and Navy's Zach Abey responsible for 1,322 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground so far this season.
2. Commander-In-Chief's Trophy on the line
For the first time since 2012, the winner of the Army-Navy Game will be awarded the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, the championship trophy awarded to the winner of the three-way regular season battle between Air Force, Army, and Navy. Air Force won the award last season, and Navy won it the year before. The last time Army took the coveted trophy home to West Point was 1996. It's been a while, but Army has its best chance in a long time to take the trophy this season.
3. Army is 3-0 in games with 0 passing yards
If you think you need to throw the football in order to win a game, think again. Army has had three games in which it did not record a single completion in the passing game, and the Black Knights are a combined 3-0 in those games. In one of those games, against Air Force, Army did not even attempt a pass. Last year against Navy, Army completed two of four pass attempts for 35 yards. For what it is worth, Navy also is 1-0 in games without a completion this season (43-40 win against SMU).
When it comes to Army and Navy, you know exactly what you are going to get. Hard-nosed running and battles on the line of scrimmage to make sure you don’t let the ball get pitched on the outside. We’re also likely to get a good, one-possession game. Five of the last six meetings have been decided by one score, and each of the last two games have ended in a 21-17 final score with Navy winning in 2015 and Army victorious in '16. Expect another one-possession game going down to the wire in Philadelphia.
Prediction: Navy 26, Army 21
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.
(Top photo courtesy of @ArmyWP_Football)