College Football

Stakes Are High For 122nd Army-Navy Game Today


The 2021 NCAA football regular season ends today when the Army Black Knights face the Navy Midshipmen for the 122nd time in the annual Army-Navy game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. This will be the first time the Army-Navy Game is played in East Rutherford since Dec. 7, 2002.

The U.S. Navy Midshipmen currently lead the series 61-53 with 7 ties in the 121 previous meetings of the Army-Navy classic. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is awarded annually to the winner of the series that are played between the three service academies – Army, Navy and Air Force. Earlier this season, Navy lost to Air Force, 23-3, but Army defeated Air Force 21-14 in overtime. A win today by Army will give the Black Knights the trophy outright. As the current trophy holder, they will retain possession of the trophy if Navy wins because of the tie between the three schools. The last time the schools shared the trophy was 1993. In addition to the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, the Secretary’s Trophy will be presented to the winner of the Army-Navy game.

Coming into the game, the Midshipmen have averaged 20.4 points per game this season, which ranks 114 in the FBS, and have only scored greater than 24 points in four of their 11 games this season. Navy ranks seventh in the FBS in rushing. They averaged 228.2 yards per game with 3.91 yards per carry average, 2,510 total yards with 17 rushing touchdowns. The Midshipmen rank 126 in total offense in the FBS.

However, Army is currently ranked No. 2 in the FBS for rushing, having netted 3313 total yards, a 301.2 yards per game average, 4.94 yards per carry average and 43 rushing touchdowns. Air Force is ranked No. 1 in rushing. The Black Knights rank 71 in offense overall.

Defensively, it’s another story. The Black Knights rank 16 in total defense, giving up an average of 5.83 yard per play while the Midshipmen rank 45 and give up 6.08 yards per play.

Army running back Tyhier Tyler scores a rushing touchdown against the UMass Minutemen earlier this season. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

But don’t expect an air war in the Army-Navy game this year. The service academies don’t normally recruit typical offensive linemen because of height and weight restrictions, and therefore don’t have the ability to protect traditional pocket passing quarterbacks. All three academies utilize the ground game and option plays in order to advance the ball past the first down markers.

The odds makers have Army as a seven-point favorite today. This is the first time since 2000-01 that the Black Knights were favored to win consecutive games. They were a 7.5-point favorite last year, and beat the Midshipmen 15-0 in a game that was moved to Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With an 8-4 record, Army is bowl eligible and will face the Missouri Tigers (6-6) in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas on Wednesday, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. ET. Navy’s season ends following this game since their 3-8 record did not earn them an invite to a bowl game for the second consecutive season. Their last bowl appearance was the 2019 Liberty Bowl.

The game presents each school with the opportunity to wear a special uniform to pay homage to those serving in uniform. This year, the Army Black Knights will wear a uniform titled, “United We Stand,” as a tribute to U.S. Army Special Forces, while the Navy Midshipmen will wear a “Fly Navy” uniform to highlight the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft.

Navy leads the series with a 61-53-7 record, but Army has won four of the last five matchups. The 2022 game will be held at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Since this year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and this is the first Army-Navy game played since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Veterans and Athletes United (VAU) Global War on Terror Memorial Flag will be present at MetLife Stadium. This memorial is 28 x 6 feet and is composed of nearly 7,000 dog tags of fallen service members from the Global War on Terror.

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