By Kyle McFadden
The typical cliché phrase used to describe a rivalry in a sporting event is to throw records out the window. Though it’s quite fatuous to confidently believe the underdog can be victorious 10 times out of 10, the improbable has glamoured more times than not.
Just some to list, the 1980 Olympics, Miracle on Ice – a hockey game that the United States wasn’t supposed to win, until the scoreboard in Lake Placid glowed “USA 4, Soviets 3”. How about the 2008 Super Bowl when the Patriots undefeated aspirations were blown by the wayside in the wake of the New York Giants. Even boxing’s most feared ring-slugger, Mike Tyson, was knocked cold by a KO blow from Buster Douglas. Heck, 2015 has had it’s moments. Just ask Ronda Rousey and Serena Williams.
On Saturday in Philadelphia, the 116th annual Army-Navy game will run it’s course. Analytic’s alone, the no. 21 Navy Midshipmen (9-2) are far superior. Not to mention, the 13 straight wins they have piled up against the Cadets.
Navy has chugged to nine wins and will face an Army team that will look to brush aside the lonesome two wins picked up in the 2015 campaign. After all, Philadelphia is home to the triumphant underdog fantasy boxer, Rocky Balboa.
“We really don’t talk about (the 13-game winning streak against Army),” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “None of the games from the past have any bearing on this game. We need to do what we need to do to get ready for this game.”
For the 18th time in the past 19 seasons, Army (2-9) will conclude a football season with a losing record. They will take a four game losing streak into Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday evening looking to finish the year on the highest note possible by potentially orchestrating an upset for the ages and the first win against Navy since 2001.
“Our kids are excited about the opportunity to play in this great rivalry,” Army head coach Jeff Monken said. “I don’t think there’s a better rivalry in college football.”
If the Cadets are going to want just a glimmer of hope on Saturday, they will need to find a way to contain dual-threat quarterback, Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds has matched the FBS record for career touchdowns with 83 and needs just one more to tie Georgia Southern’s Adrian Peterson and Towson’s Terrance West for the Division-1 accolade. He is also 65 rushing yards away from taking over third place on the all-time list of quarterbacks with 4,344 and barely, just barely missed out on a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
But what’s most important to Reynolds is to just beat Army for the fourth time in as many years under center for the Midshipmen.
“It’s a special opportunity that I’ve been afforded,” Reynolds said. “I don’t pay attention to the streak, gotta let it run off of you. In the past, we’ve been just finding ways to win against Army.”
If Reynolds can pull off the four-peat, he’ll be the first Navy quarterback in the history of the football program to do it against Army.
For Army, the have started three different quarterbacks this season with the likes of Ahmad Bradshaw (7-starts), A.J. Shurr (3) and Chris Carter (1). It is unknown for who will be under center for the Cadets on Saturday as it might not be a huge factor given the triple-option style of the play that both teams possess. Navy ranks second in the nation in rushing yards per game with 330.1 while Army ranks eighth at 254.
The contest won’t have any bowl game implications, just a good ole’ slug-fest for academy bragging rights and the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.
“This is it, the biggest game of the year,” Niumatalolo said. “We’re excited, I know our guys are ready.”