Navy vs. Air Force: Falcons Surpass Midshipmen as Top Service Academy Team

Joseph HealyCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2011

LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 18:  Asher Clark #17 of the Air Force Falcons runs for yardage against the UNLV Rebels during their game at Sam Boyd Stadium November 18, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Air Force won 35-20.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

For college football purists it doesn't get any better than games between the three service academy schools. They play the game with unmatched passion, and it's nice to know that it's highly unlikely that any of the players involved in the game were illegally recruited.

Lately, the service academies have not only been refreshing to watch, but they have put a really good product on the field.

To varying degrees, each academy has had some success of late.

Even with that being the case, it has been clear which academy has the best football team. That award goes to the Naval Academy. Before last season, Navy had won seven consecutive Commander-in-Chief's trophies. During that stretch, they went 14-0 against their fellow academies.

The game this Saturday signaled the official end of Navy's reign atop the service academy rankings. Air Force is now the best team of the three.

The change really started last season. Air Force won their first Commander-in-Chief's trophy since 2002. Their win over Navy last year was also their first since 2002.

Air Force has used a lot of the same strategies as Navy to be successful. They run the triple-option offense and pride themselves on swarming to the ball on defense.

The difference now is that Air Force is beginning to do things better than Navy.

Both teams run the ball well, but Air Force has made more big plays. Their passing game is also more of a threat. Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson is a great signal caller in that offense.

Army and Navy better hope that the Falcons are just a flash in the pan. The last time Air Force was the top service academy team, they dominated the series. They won all but four Commander-in-Chief's trophies between 1982 and 2002.

Air Force is the best team of the group right now, but no one team will dominate play like that again. Service academy football is much too good for that to happen. And that's great news for college football purists and college football fans in general.