Air Force and Navy Fight for Commander-in-Chief's Trophy in Football Showdown

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Air Force and Navy Fight for Commander-in-Chief's Trophy in Football Showdown
Navy has become Air Force's top rival with the Commander-In-Chief's trophy usually decided based on the outcome of this game. Navy has won the last seven games between the two Service Academies, but all have been close.

For cadets at the Air Force Academy in the 1980s and 1990s, the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy was almost considered a birthright. 

It was just that trophy that was on permanent display in the Air Force Academy Field House.

Every year, Air Force would play, and usually blow out, Navy and Army.

In fact, the series was so lopsided that it barely qualified as a rivalry, with games against conference rivals like Brigham Young and Colorado State taking center stage over the Service Academy matchups. 

Between 1982-2002, Air force won 19 of 21 matchups between the two schools, mostly with lopsided scores.

But in 2003, the worm turned. Navy has won the last seven meetings between the two teams, meaning that several classes of Air Force cadets have entered and graduated from the Academy without ever winning the coveted trophy, which also comes with a trip to the White House for whichever squad wins the trophy to collect the hardware from the president.

Almost all of the games during that seven-game Navy win streak have been closely contested, including last year's 16-13 overtime win by Navy in Annapolis.

The average margin of victory over that time is 5.7 points.

Even during seasons where Air Force appeared to have the stronger squad, Navy has found a way to win. 

This is almost always the game that decides the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy winner, with Army typically losing to both teams, although Army has shown signs of life over the last couple seasons.

The game that once was an afterthought for Air Force is now one of their primary goals at the beginning of each season. 

Troy Calhoun has had tremendous success in his first three seasons at Air Force. His Falcons have climbed back into the upper echelon of the Mountain West conference and gone to three straight bowl games, blowing out Houston in the last one 47-20.

What they have not done, though, is beat Navy—Calhoun is 0-3 against his Service Academy rival.

The Falcons look to change that this year, bringing in Calhoun's most complete team, with talent and experience throughout both the offense and defense.

Navy is coming off a bye week and has also looked reasonably good early. They lost a game against Maryland, in which they outplayed the Terrapins and won against Georgia Southern and Louisiana Tech.

They looked better in their loss than in their two wins.

But they will be rested and raring to go in this one.

Service Academy games are always a joy to watch. There is plenty of respect between both sides, as the players are all too aware that they'll be on the same team come graduation.

Both squads are loaded with the same kind of players: gritty, determined, and disciplined overachievers who are going to give their all for the full 60 minutes.

Even when one side blows out the other, the two still join together after the game as the two schools sing their fight songs.

It is a wonderful moment to watch, even when your team of choice comes out on the losing end.

So, how will this one end?

Air Force has enough skill on defense to limit the damage from quarterback Ricky Dobbs and a disciplined Navy offense. Look for Air Force to finally get over the hump against their archrival at home.

Prediction: Air Force 28, Navy 20

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