Army-Navy Game: Triple-option tango

Saturday December 10th, 2011

Army vs. Navy, 2:30 p.m. ET, CBS. The Army-Navy game is always a draw, it being the Army-Navy game, but this year's matchup looks like a bit of a letdown from a pure football perspective. This time last year, both teams had a winning record; now, the Black Knights are 3-8, the Midshipmen 4-7. It's the first time Navy's finished outside of bowl eligibility since 2003. Air Force has already claimed the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. So why tune in at all?

Because it's the Army-Navy game, a rivalry infused with meaning that extends beyond the sidelines in a way no other series can match. Hell, if you don't even like football, give it a glance for pure pageantry alone. (Also, why are you reading this site?) Pro Combat uniforms are hit-or-miss for any given team, but Nike's turned each side out in fine getups, particularly Navy.

On the field: Army hasn't won since 2001 but it's hard to pick a runaway favorite this year with both teams on a down swing. The Midshipmen, with a nine-game win streak over their most hallowed rivals, are a touchdown favorite. And here's the real reason to watch: There may not be a single pass thrown in this game. Army has the No. 1 rushing offense and No. 120 passing; Navy is fourth in rushing and 119th in passing. Combined, the two teams are averaging over 650 yards of ground offense per game. Navy's leading receiver, Brandon Turner, is averaging about one and a quarter receptions per game; Army's top receiver, Davyd Brooks, is averaging even less. One other thing Army doesn't like to do too often is hang onto the ball, while Navy's turnover margin is in the national top 20. Look for the Midshipmen to snag a couple fumbles and run away with this one -- just not too far.

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