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Navy vs. Air Force Prediction: Chase for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy Begins on Saturday

First game of the service academies' annual round-robin series takes place in Colorado Springs.

Saturday afternoon will be a time to salute the troops as Air Force and Navy take part in the first leg of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series this season. Air Force has not laid its hands on the trophy since 2016 but has had the tactical advantage on the Midshipmen each of the past two years, and in three of the last four. The way things have gone in the first month of this season, Air Force (3-1) looks to be a solid favorite against Navy (1-2) this weekend as well.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 5

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 12 p.m. ET
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Spread: Air Force -14
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When Navy Has the Ball

While Air Force and Army are among the nation's best when it comes to rushing offense, which is to be expected, Navy has been lagging behind by service academy standards. The Midshipmen are averaging 196.7 rushing yards per game, which ranks 31st in the nation. What's even more concerning is that the ground attack is gaining just 3.2 yards per carry and has only produced three rushing touchdowns in three games. But these Middies can sling it too.

Tai Lavatai completed seven of his 10 attempts for 152 yards and a touchdown last week in a double-overtime victory over East Carolina. Navy having a balanced offense still takes some getting used to, but it could prove to be a difference-maker.

When Air Force Has the Ball

Last week, Falcons quarterback Ben Brittain attempted his first pass of the season, and he may want to just call it quits and go out on a high note with the passing game. Brittain's one pass attempt was good for an 80-yard touchdown in the 48-20 rout of Nevada. But naturally, Air Force is built on the running game, and everybody gets a little piece of the action. The Falcons piled up 461 yards on the ground last week with Brad Roberts (123 yds.) and John Lee Eldridge III (102) leading the way. For the season, Air Force is No. 1 in the country with an eye-popping 412.3 rushing yards per game.

Navy has been pretty solid against the run so far this season. The Midshipmen are allowing just 2.3 yards per attempt, which is good for fifth in the nation behind James Madison, Rutgers, Alabama, and Iowa. It's an understatement to say this will be put to the test on Saturday.

Final Analysis

Navy picked up its first win of the season last week against East Carolina, but the start to the season has been more than rough around the edges for the Midshipmen. Air Force has been showing no mercy so far this season with three victories by at least 28 points (vs. Northern Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada). This may not be a four-touchdown victory for the Falcons, but there is little question they are in a much better position to win this game comfortably than their counterparts from Annapolis.

Prediction: Air Force 34, Navy 14

Podcast: Week 5 Preview, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB, on Instagram, on TikTok, and Like him on Facebook.

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