Following each Army-Navy Game the alma mater of both Army and Navy are played, with the winning academies rendition being played second. All members of both teams honor each other by standing and listening to the other’s song while the losing team fights back tears and the celebratory side hoops and hollers in front of their fellow students training to protect the United States. It is a show of companionship between the two most popular service academies, showing that they may be enemies on the field but at the end of the day they stand side by side.
It is one of the greatest traditions in college football but for the Army Black Knights it has been one of the more painful routines each of the last eight years. The last time Army had their alma mater played last it was done in the expiring Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Since then the country has seen two Presidential elections, one Heisman Trophy be returned, Nick Saban coach two different teams to a BCS championship, and the price of a stamp increase from $0.34 to $0.44 after five separate increases. If Army does not win this weekend that postage rate is going to go up at least one more time before snapping an eight game losing streak to Navy.
“Twice this season we stepped onto the big stage under the bright lights and did not play well,” Ellerson said. “That’s the next challenge for us culturally. We want to play Army football and find out whether we’re good enough to beat Navy.”
Beating Navy will be tough. This current class of Midshipmen seniors owns a record of 6-1 against Army and Air Force and has won two games against Notre Dame after the Naval program lost 43 consecutive games against the Irish. At this stage, given everything Navy has done in recent memory, the Midshipmen look like a juggernaut compared to Army.
But this Army team is not without potential. This year’s team will be the first to go to a bowl game since 1996. Following this weekend’s game in Philadelphia Army will prepare for a trip to Dallas to play SMU in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Don’t let the name fool you though. The game is played in the home stadium of the SMU Mustangs. For now the focus is on Navy, which may be placed on a pedestal above any bowl game Army could play in anyway.
Army has plenty of reasons to be bitter with Navy and plenty of work to do to catch up to their rivals. Navy has outscored Army 288-74 in the current winning streak against Army, which includes a 58-12 rout in 2002. Navy has won by double digits in each game in the current streak as well.
The Army Navy Game will be played on Saturday, December 11 and will be broadcast on CBS starting at 2:30 p.m. You can follow my live updates from the game before during and after on Twitter as I provide live updates from the press box.