A half-dozen quick hits for service academy football fans before Round 2 of the Commander in Chief’s Trophy series kicks off Saturday:
1. Spirit spot smackdown. Air Force fans may want to avert their eyes:
The Cadet Media Group at West Point crammed a lot of trash talk into 97 seconds, even giving some space to Navy and Coast Guard representatives to get their digs in on the folks from Colorado Springs.
Falcons faithful have about 48 hours to answer before Air Force hosts the Black Knights (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Eastern, CBS Sports Network). The response might involve this, which currently resides on USAFA property.
2. Thursday night lights. While its fellow academies prep for a Saturday showdown, Navy will visit Temple tonight (8 p.m.) for an American Athletic Conference game in front of a national ESPN audience. It’s a rematch of last year’s AAC title game in Annapolis, where Temple earned a 34-10 victory that was worse for Navy than the score indicates: Mids starting quarterback Will Worth and starting slotback Toneo Gulley were both injured on the same play and would miss the rest of the game ... and the team’s next contest, against Army.
3. Bowl bound? Air Force’s 4-4 mark is the worst among the academies at this point in the season, but the Falcons remain on pace for a .500 record and a bowl bid. All three teams reached postseason play last season as well, and Army’s already accepted a berth in this year’s Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, set for Dec. 23. The Black Knights are 6-2, while the Midshipmen (5-2) are one win away from clinching a bowl spot.
4. Running away with it. Aside from going bowling, another indicator of a successful service academy season comes from the NCAA stat book, where the academies hold the top three spots for rushing offense among Football Bowl Subdivision squads. Navy’s first with 376.1 yards per game, followed by Army West Point (362.1) and Air Force (350.4). Georgia Tech, led by former Navy coach Paul Johnson and running a similar option attack to the academies, sits in fourth (347.9).
5. Entertainment purposes only. Navy is an eight-point favorite heading into Philadelphia to face the Owls this evening. And despite the Falcons’ 4-4 mark, they’re 6.5-point favorites over the 6-2 Black Knights.
6. End notes. Navy and Notre Dame square off in San Diego next year; get your tickets now. ... Army’s home game against Duke on Nov. 11 is sold out, though fans may find seats on the secondary ticket market. Temple prepares for the second dose of the triple option in as many games. ... West Point’s boxing and hockey teams are also competing at Air Force this weekend. ... Army Lt. Gen. Nadja West (USMA ‘82), the service’s surgeon general, filmed a spirit video recently at Fort Sam Houston, Texas; it’s unclear whether the shoot included any selfies.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.