Alabama vs. Auburn was an outstanding rivalry match-up this year. USC vs. UCLA had a brawl among fans before the game, showing how bitter that rivalry is. Texas vs. Oklahoma has had national title implications in the past. And of course, Ohio State vs. Michigan has always ended the Big Ten season, usually with one or both of the teams traveling to the BCS after the season is over.
But, without question, the best, most long-standing, and most meaningful rivalry in all of college football is this Saturday to end the college football regular season.
The Army and Naval Academy’s will face off on Saturday, December 11th in their 101st meeting between the two teams. The festivities start the night before with a pep rally for the fans and cadets and will fester right up until the gates open at 10:30 and kickoff at 2:40. The game will be broadcasted live on NBC.
I will be live at the game in the pressbox and will be giving LIVE game updates and notes throughout the game on twitter. I’ll be answering any questions about the game and also giving some scouting insight as well as overall game and stadium notes.
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Here are some notes for the upcoming game:
-Since 1890, these two teams have played exactly 100 times, with Navy having the slight edge in the series, 54-49, with seven ties. The deadlock between the teams ended in 2006 in the midst of the Navy most recent route of Army the best few years.
-Navy has been on an eight game winning streak against Army, and has won 9 of the last ten games. In this current eight game winning streak, Navy has outscored Army 291-74, an average of 27 point deficit in Navy’s favor.
-Last year, in Rich Ellerson’s first year as coach at Army, was the first time since Army’s last win in 2001 that Army held the Midshipmen to under 25 points.
-Ken Niumatolo has been the head coach at Navy for two years now, but has been a part of this rivalry since 2002 as a coordinator. Rich Ellerson, formerly head coach at Cal-Poly University, gave the team it’s most victories since 1996 last year.
-Army will be playing in their first bowl game since 1996. They’ll play a June Jones, led SMU team in the Armed Forces Bowl. Navy will face San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl.
-Interesting connection between these two head coaches. Rich Ellerson formerly played at the University of Hawaii, and became a coach on the staff in the early 80s. In 1983, Ellerson recruited a quarterback to the team, Ken Niumatolo. Ellerson and Niumatolo were on the same team and eventually the same staff for the next few years until both moved on. Both have great respect for each other as coaches and do talk outside the game.
-Both Army and Navy have under 1200 yards passing and over 2700 yards rushing. However, Navy had over 300 yards more passing, 5 more passing touchdowns, almost 500 yards more rushing, and 2 more rushing touchdowns for the year.
-Army had five players with over 45 rushing attempts and 3+ touchdowns.
-Ricky Dobbs was the leader in all passing categories and all rushing categories. His top threat in the passing game was receiver Greg Jones who had 554 yards and four touchdowns.
-Army defensive standout Josh McNary at defensive end was named to the Burlsworth Award watch list. The award goes to the player who has been had the most impact on his team despite being a walk-on. The other finalists are Ryan Winterswyk of Boise State, Sean Bedford of Georgia Tech, Nick Reveiz of Tennessee, and Bryant Ward of Oklahoma State.
-Some players to watch for the game that possibly have NFL potential if they didn’t have military obligations: Josh McNary and Stephen Anderson at linebacker for Army. For Navy, quarterback Ricky Dobbs, probably at a receiver position, receiver Greg Jones, and cornerback Mario Washington.
Prediction: Navy 24-17 Army
-Rich Ellerson is on the right track with this Army team, and they should start to be a little more consistent and competitive than in the past eight years. However, Dobbs should be too much for this Army defense to handle. This game could get out of hand, but I’ll expect Army to be ready to roll now that they are going to the post-season after the game is over for the first time in 14 years.