Back in July (boy, that seems so long ago, doesn’t it?) Tony Kornheiser said this about playing the Army-Navy game amid the pandemic on ESPN’s PTI: “The Service Academies are special… If there can be one game played in this country in college football, that’s the game I would pick.”
We all nodded in agreement. And it was apparent that the athletic directors and the head coaches of Army and Navy were going to do everything in their power to make sure that game got played, even if it was the only college football game of the season.
And here we are. It’s not quite the same — we’re not in Philadelphia or Baltimore. We’re back at West Point for the first time since World War II. But the greatest rivalry in all of college football is happening.
Army and Navy enter Saturday’s game both having already played nine games. This season was different than most; games got canceled, schedules were shuffled around. Heck, Army is playing Air Force next week.
Against Army, Navy has the chance to salvage their season. The Mids are 3-6 and have played musical chairs at quarterback this season. They were embarrassed by BYU and Air Force, and let teams like SMU and Houston score big. But Navy’s defense has been much improved in its past two games, looking completely different than the one that showed up at an empty Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in September. Beat the Black Knights and that’s one of the first thing Navy folks will remember about this year: Man, remember the 2020 season? That was wild. But hey, we beat Army.
The Black Knights has been more successful — albeit playing a softer schedule. Both of Army’s two losses came against teams in the AAC, the conference Navy plays in. Jeff Monken’s side has the nation’s third-best rushing offense while having their own carousel at quarterback, mostly due to injuries. For Army, even if it loses to Navy, it still has the opportunity to beat Air Force, win a bowl game and finish the season well above .500. But if you don’t beat Navy, can you really consider it a successful season?
Here’s everything you need to know about the 121st Army-Navy game.
- When: Saturday, Dec. 12 — 3 p.m. ET | LIVE STATS
- Where: Michie Stadium in West Point, New York
- TV: Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson will have the call while Jamie Erdahl reports from the sidelines.
- Radio: John Sadak, Ross Tucker and Tina Cervasio will have the national call for Westwood One. (TEAM RADIO CALLS: ARMY | NAVY)
- Also on TV: CBS Sports Network will air the Army-Navy March-On from noon to 1:30 p.m. and then Inside College Football: Army-Navy Tailgate from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
- Weather: The high at West Point is projected to be around 50 degrees. There’s slight chance of rain and this afternoon is supposed to be a bit foggy and damp. Winds should be light. (Weather.com)
- Odds: Most sports books have Army favored by about a touchdown with the over-under around 38 points.
On a cold and nasty day in Philadelphia, Malcolm Perry ran and ran and ran – and ran some more – all over Army’s defense, leading Navy to an emphatic 31-7 win over Army. Perry’s 304 rushing yards and two scores helped the Midshipmen end the Black Knights’ three-year winning streak.
“I couldn’t be happier to see Malcolm Perry graduate,” Monken said after the game.
Army led 7-0 after the first quarter, but Navy went up 14-7 at halftime thanks to “the Navy Special” – a goal-line touchdown pass from receiver Chance Warren to fullback Jamale Carothers just before the second quarter ended. In true triple-option fashion, that pass would be just one of three thrown on the day between both teams.
Navy rolled in the second half, getting additional touchdowns from Carothers and Perry, and a kick from Bijan Nichols. It was Navy’s 61st win over Army, and the Mids lead the all-time series 61-52-7.
Numbers to know
- This year marks the 121st playing of the Army-Navy game, which is the eighth-most played rivalry in FBS football.
- Navy linebacker Tama Tuitele is the nation’s leader in forced fumbles with four.
- Fullback Jakobi Buchanan leads Army in rushing with 383 yards and five touchdowns on 87 carries. Slotback Tyrell Robinson is right behind Buchanan with 379 rushing yards – doing so with just 50 carries – and fullback Sandon McCoy has 10 touchdowns this year.
- Navy has played at least two quarterbacks in 7 of its 9 contests this year.
- Army’s offense ranks 13th in the nation in time of possession (33:41) and is 22nd on fourth-down conversions (.714).
- Navy is 42-28 (.600) in the Ken Niumatalolo era in one-score games, including 3-1 this season.
- Army’s special teams have produced a nation’s-best seven blocked kicks this year, including three blocked punts, which also leads the country.
- Senior defensive lineman Jackson Perkins is the only player on Navy’s defensive unit to start all 9 games this fall.
- The Black Knights are 0-3 vs. the Midshipmen when playing at West Point. However, Army currently owns an eight-game home winning-streak dating back to 2019. During the stretch, the Black Knights have outscored their opponents by a total of 335-82.
- Army and Navy have both had 25 first-time starters this season, tied for second-most in the nation.
- Black Knights’ linebacker Jon Rhattigan, a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, has recorded 67 tackles, a fumble recovery and two interceptions on the season.
An Army victory would set up a winner-take-all game between the Black Knights and Air Force on Dec. 19 at Michie Stadium. This year is the first time ever that Army and Air Force have played each other after the Army-Navy game.
If Navy wins, only Air Force can win the C.I.C. Trophy outright with a victory over Army.
If Navy beats Army, and then Army beats Air Force, then Navy – the most recent outright winner – would retain the trophy because of a three-way tie. There has only been a tie for the C.I.C. four times in the last 48 years: 1974 (retained by Navy), 1976 (retained by Navy), 1980 (retained by Navy), and 1993 (retained by Air Force).
‘Natural chemistry’ between Cameron Kinley and Myles Fells will fuel bond after Navy football | Katherine Fominykh, the Capital Gazette
Army Week | Mike James, TheMidReport
Army-Navy football: Memorable moments, all-time history | Zach Pekale, NCAA.com
Army LB Jon Rhattigan a late bloomer for Black Knights | John Kekis, AP
Why Amadeo West can fully appreciate his final Army-Navy game | Ken McMillan, Times Herald-Record
Navy football welcomes challenge of beating Army in true road game | Bill Wagner, the Capital Gazette
Army-Navy will feel radically different in West Point, but it will remain magical | John Feinstein, the Washington Post
Army will roll out a ‘Wrecking Ball’ from St. Charles against Navy | Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Billy Honaker to honor late David Forney by wearing No. 68 against Army | Bill Wagner, the Capital Gazette
2020 Army Navy game is a financial hit for athletic associations at both academies | Bill Wagner, the Capital Gazette
Wait is over for Army freshmen to join the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy battle | Ken McMillan, Times Herald-Record
‘I couldn’t have ever imagined it’: Navy senior Jackson Perkins relishing role as captain amid difficult season | Tim Schwartz, the Capital Gazette
For Cameron Kinley and Navy, the Army Game Can Give 2020 a Highlight | Juliet Macur, the New York Times
And from this here blog…
- What Army-Navy means to a 1987 West Point graduate | Kaylah Jackson
- ESPN’s Desmond Howard dishes on Army-Navy, college football in 2020 | Mitchell Northam
- All I want for Christmas: Army-Navy | Gavin Jernigan
- The Army-Navy game was nearly canceled in 1943. Then it was moved to West Point. | Kaylah Jackson
The Superintendent at West Point is ready for Saturday's game! pic.twitter.com/GoKq8mUbfN— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) December 7, 2020
. @NavyFB tri-captain @billyhonaker71 will wear the No. 68 on Saturday in honor of David Forney. Honaker received permission from David's father, Rick, to wear the number. Nobody has worn No. 68 this year for Navy.— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) December 7, 2020
Army vs. Navy is this Saturday. The Mayors of Highland Falls NY (West Point) and Annapolis, MD (Naval Academy) have placed a friendly wager on the game. First time it has been played on either service academy's grounds since 1943! #PizzavsCrabcakes #GoNavy #BeatArmy pic.twitter.com/nLdpUFMB5f— CityofAnnapolis (@CityofAnnapolis) December 9, 2020
President Donald Trump is expected to attend this year’s game. It will be the fourth time Trump has been to the game, attending as President-elect in 2016 in Baltimore, and then each of the past two games. It will be Trump’s final trip to the game during his term as President.
George W. Bush attended the game three times while he was in office, and Harry Truman went to the game seven times (1945-50 and 1952).
See you next year!
Unfortunately, the Against All Enemies crew is unable to attend this year’s Army-Navy game and won’t be able to cover it in-person. We’re hoping that we can make it next year and tailgate with y’all and our friends from Banner Society and SB Nation like last season. Here’s to 2021.