Air Force and Navy take the field in the first leg of the battle for the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy this Saturday when the two service academies meet in Colorado Springs. Both teams have had some struggles early on this season, and both are coming off losses in their most recent games.
Air Force is looking to snap out of a three-game losing streak that is already putting bowl eligibility in danger as the October schedule gets underway. Navy comes in with a 2-2 record and could benefit greatly from picking up a win against the rival Falcons.
Navy at Air Force
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 6 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Navy -3.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Old-fashioned option offenses go head-to-head
It is no secret that any time you get two service academies on the field together, you’re going to get a lot of option offense. That will certainly be the case this week as Navy and Air Force rely on the ground attack as the core of their offensive game plans. Navy’s Malcolm Perry continues to lead the running game for the Midshipmen, while Air Force puts more in the hands of fullback Cole Fagan and running back Kadin Remsberg.
2. Problems holding on to the football?
Both Air Force and Navy enter this game having lost five fumbles this season, which is among the most lost fumbles by any team this season. Of course, considering how often these two teams run the football, the chances for a fumble are going to be higher than for most other teams. By contrast, however, Army has lost just two fumbles despite at least 50 more rushing attempts than Air Force and Navy this season.
On the other hand, Navy is among the nation’s best at recovering fumbles. The Midshipmen have pounced on seven of 10 fumbles by their opponents this season. Air Force has recovered five of six fumbles by their opponents.
3. Navy’s struggles in Colorado Springs
The two service academies have met a total of 24 times on Air Force’s campus, and far more often than not, things have not gone well for Navy. Navy has won just seven times at Air Force, including a 28-14 loss two years ago. Navy has lost the last two games played at Air Force and has just one win in its last four trips.
These two teams have alternated wins each of the last five seasons, with the home team winning each time. That is a trend that could continue this week, as Air Force is due for a win. In that five-year run, the home team has generally walked away with a comfortable win as well, until last year’s thriller in Annapolis. This one could very well go down to the wire once again, with Air Force having just enough to make it six wins in a row for the home team in this series.
Prediction: Air Force 26, Navy 24
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. 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 navysports.com)