NCAA Football

College Football Preview: Army vs. Navy

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Army Black Knights vs. Navy Midshipmen

2:30 PM ET Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

Laying the scene

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One of the best longstanding traditions of college football.

As both teams are headed to bowl games (Navy to the Poinsettia Bowl vs. San Diego State and Army to the Armed Forces Bowl vs. SMU), there isn't much to play for but pride and bragging rights. The Army-Navy Game is a tradition that stretches back to 1890 with Navy holding a 54-49 lead in the series. The game has been played every year since its inception except for in 10 years—1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1909, 1917, 1918, 1928 and 1929.

Several cities have hosted the game including Philadelphia (81 games), New York City (11 games), Baltimore (4 games) and East Rutherford (4 games). Annapolis, MD and West Point, NY, the location of the two service academies, have hosted the game just three times each in the history of the game. Chicago, Pasadena and Princeton have each hosted the game one time.

The Midshipmen have dominated the series of late, winning each of the last eight matchups and 10 of the last 11. Army was the dominant team in the 80s and early 90s, winning 10 of 13 matchups from 1984 to 1996.

Both teams use the triple option offense and have seen some success in doing so. Don't expect much passing in this one, as both teams—along with Air Force and Georgia Tech, who also use the triple option offense—rank in the bottom four in passing offense, but in the top 10 in rushing offense. Simply put, this is a game that will be won on the ground.

What Army has to do to win

For the second year in a row, Army is ranked dead last in passing offense, averaging just 77.9 yards per game—although it's an improvement over last season's 71.75 yards per game. They are, however, ranked ninth in rushing offense, averaging 260.3 yards per game—up from their 16th ranked rushing offense that averaged 203.58 yards per game in 2009. The Black Knights have already won one more game than they did last season and have the opportunity to better their mark by two games if they can take this one.

Army has played two teams from BCS automatic qualifying conferences—Duke and Rutgers—this season and only managed to beat Duke. They also lost by a field goal to Hawaii of the WAC, lost to a Temple team from the MAC that went 8-4 in the regular season, were beaten by Air Force of the Mountain West and lost to fellow independent Notre Dame. For their progress since returning to the triple option offense in 2008, Army has struggled to beat tougher competition.

Both teams are fairly similar, employing the triple option offense, forcing turnovers, avoiding turnovers of their own and both have been middle of the road defenses this season with Army allowing 24.64 points per game and Navy 22.82 points per game. There's always a lot of emotion in this game, but Army needs to come into this one with confidence to break their eight-game losing streak in the annual rivalry game.

What Navy has to do to win

Whereas Army has not beaten a bowl-eligible team this season, Navy has beaten three. Not exactly the greatest of resumes, but they have played well-enough this season to amass an 8-3 record thus far. Navy averages 31 points this season, but has scored more than 30 points in each of the last five games. Over the past seven, including a 76 point performance against East Carolina, they have averaged 38.7 yards per game.

Since throwing four interceptions in a three game period, quarterback Ricky Dobbs has not thrown a pick since he threw one in the win over Wake Forest on October 9. He's rushed for 806 yards so far this season compared to the 913 rushing yards he accumulated at this point in the season last year, but has rushed for 100 yards or more in each of the last two games. If he has another big game, Navy will be in good position to come away with the win.

The call

Navy. They've been too dominant over the past several years to call this in Army's favor. You could argue that the Black Knights are due one, but while they are bowl-eligible, they have not won any notable games this season. In their eight-game winning streak in the series, Navy has won by at least two scores in every game. Expect a similar outcome on Saturday. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

Email Danny at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at DannyHobrock

 

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