The Commander-In-Chief Trophy is presented to the winner of the football competition between all three service academy schools. The Midshipmen have won the trophy a record seven straight times, and have won 15 consecutive matchups against Army and Air Force. Against the Falcons, Navy has won seven in a row, but despite the recent winning streak the Midshipmen still find themselves on the wrong end of a 25-17 margin in the all-time series.
Looking for their eighth straight trophy, the Midshipmen head into this matchup riding a minor two-game winning streak. After opening the year with a tough, 17-14 setback on the road against Maryland, the Midshipmen have reeled off back-to-back victories over Georgia Southern (13-7) and Louisiana Tech (37-23). Navy was not in action this past weekend, so coach Ken Niumatalolo's men should be well rested for this matchup with Air Force.
As for the Falcons, they have won three of their first four matchups, and the lone loss was a close, 27-24 setback to Oklahoma in Norman. It was not pretty, but last week coach Troy Calhoun's crew bounced back into the win column with a 20-14 decision over Wyoming on the road.
Navy has developed into one of the top running teams in the nation, and the team's dominance on the ground continued in its recent win over Louisiana Tech.
The Midshipmen rumbled for 297 yards and four touchdowns on 4.9 yards per attempt and are now averaging 272.7 ypg via the run. Gee Gee Greene led the way with 87 yards, while Ricky Dobbs and Vince Murray both scored and finished with 67 and 62 yards, respectively. After three games Murray is currently leading the team with 224 yards, while Dobbs has contributed 174 yards and a team best three touchdowns.
Clearly the Midshipmen are a running football team, but Dobbs, who is the quarterback for Navy, must show he can throw the ball at times so defenses will remain honest. At this point, Dobbs has completed 59.4 percent of his throws for 376 yards, and while that is nothing special, it does keep opposing teams from concentrating solely on the run.
The Midshipmen might have been victorious in their last contest, but the defense for coach Niumatalolo showed some weaknesses against a lackluster team in Louisiana Tech.
The Bulldogs attacked Navy's defense through the air, throwing for 251 yards and one touchdown. It was a shocking display by Louisiana Tech, especially since Navy is limiting the opposition to just 99.3 passing ypg on the year.
While the play against the pass was not expected the team's performance against the run continues to be a problem for this defense. Navy, which is being punished for 162.7 ypg on the ground, allowed Louisiana Tech to rumble for 154 yards on 4.8 ypc.
The defense relied on its big plays, as Navy forced three turnovers, and stopped the Bulldogs when it mattered most, on third down, limiting Louisiana Tech to ju 3-of-14 in those crucial situations.
The Falcons have taken a page from Navy's gameplan, and have pulverized opposing defenses with their ground attack, which is churning out 394.0 ypg. Air Force has already scored 20 touchdowns on the year, and 17 of those scores have come via the run.
Quarterback Tim Jefferson is leading the team with five rushing touchdowns, while Jared Tew is pacing the squad with 371 rushing yards. However, Asher Clark has also made his presence known, pounding out 353 yards on 6.4 yards per attempt.
Air Force's dominance on the ground continued in its victory over Wyoming, as the Falcons dismantled the Cowboys for 279 yards on 5.3 ypc. Tew and Jefferson scored one touchdown each in the win, while finishing with 136 and 94 yards, respectively.
Not to be overlooked has been the play of the defense, which is limiting the opposition to just 19.0 ppg. Teams are only producing 306.8 total ypg against this defense, but if there was a trouble area for Air Force it would be against the run, as opponents are churning out 142.5 ypg.
Air Force's inability to stop the run was evident in the win over Wyoming, as the Cowboys gashed coach Calhoun's squad for 174 yards on 5.1 yards per attempt. Overall, Air Force surrendered just 240 yards and held Wyoming to just 12 first downs. Jon Davis led the way with six tackles and also forced a fumble the win, while Brady Amack, who is leading the team with 28 tackles, finished wi five against Wyoming.
Navy has dominated the other service schools over the past few seasons, but every good run must come to an end, and for the Midshipmen it looks like their winning streak is about to be finished. The Falcons rely on their ground game, which at the moment is better than Navy's and if Air Force can win the time of possession battle, then look for coach Calhoun's squad to earn a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Air Force 24, Navy 20
Saturday, October 2nd, 2:30 p.m. (et)