As I type, Navy is a two and a half point road dog traveling to Air Force on Saturday. This game has presented a challenge from the day the schedule was released. Navy is being asked to play its second of back to back road games, at altitude, against a rival they have beaten three straight years. Both of these teams appear to be better than Army, so this might be the most important game in the Commander-in-Chief Trophy competition. Falcon Stadium will be abuzz with the tension of this rivalry, in addition to a packed house filled with fans who are not used to Navy beating Air Force.
The schedule results for both teams do not give any indication of how this game could play out. Air Force surprised many by hanging close with Tennessee in Knoxville. But that game, for UT, was a sandwich game between the Cal and Florida games. Air Force handled Wyoming and New Mexico, but these were games one would have expected them to win going into the season. No surprises.
Navy lost a close one to Tulsa. As Tulsa's season progresses, it appears there is no shame in that loss. Navy has won their other games, as expected. Nobody expected the UMass game to be as close as it was, but Navy was extremely sloppy.
I have gone back and forth on this one. If you look at the schedule results to date, and think that both teams are about where they were predicted to be, that would seem to indicate to me that Navy would have the edge. They were slightly better the last few years, returned a bunch of starters, and the offense is starting to ramp up like it has the last few years. However, as mentioned above, AF is has some intangibles on its side.
In the end, I have faith that the Navy coaches will be able to rally the troops and find a way to pull out a close win here. I think it is also notable that AF will have a freshman starting at guard, and their defensive line is still nursing some lingering injuries. This could make the difference.
Navy 31 – Air Force 30
Predictions for Navy's past and future opponents:
East Carolina beats UVA in a close one. East Carolina seems to be improving after a come from behind win against Memphis and a close loss to West Virginia. Virginia has not been particularly impressive this week and the game is at ECU.
UMass has a 1AA showdown this week against William&Mary. W&M has not lived up to its expectations thus far this year. UMass gets the nod.
Tulsa has a bye week.
Rutgers has a bye week..
Notre Dame will hammer Stanford.
Eastern Michigan has a bye.
Army exacts some measure of revenge against VMI.