Army Navy. Saturday, 8 December in Philadelphia at FedEx Field.
I'm not even sure it's college football. There will be no NFL scouts in the stands. No charges of NCAA violations. No 4 star recruits. Forget about 5 star recruits. The announcers won't know any of the players. Neither will the national audience. "Real" football players won't go to the service academies. (They probably wouldn't qualify if they wanted to, but that's another discussion) No Twitter controversies where one player claims they will kill the other team. There are no individual names on the backs of jerseys. It's all about team. Oh, they'll play hard. Harder than you can imagine. This will be a game that no matter the score, there will never be any situation where one team gives up. Never.
Army has had some tough breaks this season. Actually, that was an understatement. In a year where their talented senior returning QB Trent Steelman was expected, along with a handful in the backfield that led the nation in rushing last year, to make a statement, they fell apart. The schedule looked easy enough. Kent State, Rutgers, Northern Illinois, San Diego State... How hard could it be? Tough time for Army that these teams had historic years. It wasn't meant to be. While last year the Army defense was shredded by passing teams, this year it was demolished on the ground. Although they led the nation for the 2nd year in a row rushing the football, their defense couldn't keep up as they have posted a pathetic 2-9 record getting blown out by weaklings such as Stony Brook and Temple. Somehow, they found a way to beat Air Force easily. Notably, Army is a team that lost to Northern Illinois by only 1 point. They somehow beat Boston College on a last second run by Steelman into the endzone. They played Rutgers close until the 3rd quarter then gave the game away. This isn't a bad team, just one that couldn't get it done on the field when it counted. But there is hope. Great hope at the Army Navy game.
Navy will be bowl bound with a respectable 7-4 season. With the exception of getting demolished by NCG bound Notre Dame in Ireland, Navy has played well this season and I can't see a scenario where they won't be heavily favored in the great contest.
Amazingly, the service academies' year comes down to Army vs. Navy for the Commander in Chief's Trophy. If Army were to beat Navy, it would huge. 2001 was the last time Army beat Navy- that's 10 in a row. Ten years is a long time for any true rivalry to be one-sided, for Army Navy football dominance, it is unthinkable. So although only 2-9 on the season, if Army could find a way to win, this would be one of the greatest seasons in history for West Pointers- where every home game week revolves Army football It's tough to have your life revolve around a team that doesn't win...one becomes afraid it might rub off...not good.
Here's to watching a group of kids playing football from a time gone by. There is no NFL for any of these young men- even if they had the talent- they are playing for something more. Good old fashioned pride and camraderie. Pride in their institutions and a sober understanding that they will soon be fighting and leading America's sons and daughters in combat for the country on the same team. These two opponents understand the place of competition on the field and it is only by watching a game such as this one that one can gain true perspective.