Saturday, December 10, 2022, marks the 123rd overall meeting between the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen in the battle of the US’ 2 largest service academies. The Army-Navy game is one of college football’s most elite rivalries, even if to the average fan, the games are repeatedly boring by low scoring efforts.
Last year’s meeting in East Rutherford, NJ saw Navy pull out a tight 17-13 victory in a victory for the sea team over the ground team. It was the 2nd return to glory for the Midshipmen after losing in 2020 15-0 at West Point, dominating in Philadelphia in 2019 31-7 and it happened to a team that from 2002-2016, won every single contest against the Black Knights, formerly known as the Cadets.
The Army-Navy game goes all the way back to 1890 when Navy sunk Army with a 24-0 shutout. Since then, the Midshipmen have led the all-time series with 62 wins, 53 losses, and 7 ties in 122 contests.
This year’s matchup sees both schools head back to the city of brotherly love for 2022, where both teams are still vying for a bowl appearance. However, only 1 can make it to the postseason and it’s the team at West Point, as Army sit at 5-6 while Navy’s 2022 campaign sinks with a 4-7 record coming in. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 pm on CBS.
Why Army will Win
Army can pull off a tough-fought victory against the team from Annapolis as long as their ground game stays as good as it’s been. The Black Knights rank second in the nation with 304 ground yards per game compared to the Midshipmen’s 239 per game. Army also averages 29.4 points per game (58th in the nation) compared to 22.4 points per game for Navy (104th).
It’s worth mentioning both teams operate run-first offenses, and this game historically features minimal passing plays and overall, low-scoring contests. Army has the better rushing attack and averaged a tick over 300 YPG rushing on 5.6 YPC, while Navy averaged 239.5 on 4.0.
Army’s run offense ranks No. 25 in success rate, No. 41 in explosiveness, and No. 4 in stuff rate. Navy ranks No. 116, No. 110, and No. 59, respectively, in the same three categories. Army also has a playmaker at quarterback in Tyhier Tyler.
The 5-foot-8, 183-pound senior from Newport News, Va., has 12 rushing touchdowns this season, which is tied for second among all FBS quarterbacks. In the win over UMass, Tyler ran for 101 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries.
All of this doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be much less exciting, however. If you’re a sucker for old-school football in an old-school rivalry, this is one you’ll want to tune in to. The norm for this kind of game routinely sees points by either side barely even reach the 3-touchdown margin, or not even at all.
Why Navy will Win
Navy can hit big plays, and it’s much, much stronger and more consistent against the run.
The Midshipmen haven’t allowed 100 yards rushing in any of the last four games, and it’s not like it’s done it anyway against a slew of lightweights when beating Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and UCF over the last three games. Navy does have the country’s 4th-best run defense, after all, allowing just 93 total yards per game. Meanwhile, Army is considerably worse in that department, allowing at least 100 more per game at 196 total.
The Midshipmen will not make a bowl but did provide a few upsets during the season. Navy beat East Carolina and Central Florida outright, with one-possession losses to Notre Dame, SMU, and Air Force. They run plenty of 21 and 22 formations, enabling multiple running backs and tight ends to set up the triple option inside and outside of the tackles.
Navy also has a star linebacker in John Marshall. A standout receiver in high school, Marshall ranks third in the country in tackles for loss per game (1.7) and fifth in sacks per game (0.95). In the Midshipmen’s upset of Central Florida on Nov. 19, Marshall had a school-record four sacks, helping Navy limit the high-scoring Knights to just 14 points.
In addition, the Midshipmen are the least penalized team in college football. Navy averages just 3.5 penalties per game and 28.3 penalty yards per game. Both are the fewest among the 131 FBS teams.
The Army-Navy game is upon us. Here’s the prediction for Saturday afternoon’s contest in Philly at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles.