The winner of the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy almost always is determined each year by the Army-Navy game during the final week of the season. But in 2020, it will be Army and Air Force who are finishing the regular season with a game to decide the winner of the coveted hardware that goes annually to the winner of the round-robin between the service academies.
These teams were originally scheduled to meet Nov. 7 before the game was postponed due to “upward trends in our COVID numbers across the campus” at Air Force. Army coach Jeff Monken cast doubt on Air Force’s reasons for the postponement, saying that, “apparently they just didn’t want to play it this weekend and I’m not sure it all had to do with COVID and those kinds of things.”
At the time, it was unclear if and when the game might be rescheduled and what impact the postponement would have on the race for the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy. But the game is on, and it’s a winner take-all affair as Army looks to take the trophy for the third time in four years while Air Force tries to claim it for the first time since 2016. It will be tough sledding for the Black Knights going up against the Falcons just one week after a hard-fought win over the Midshipmen.
Air Force: It’s been a season of extremes for Air Force. The Falcons’ two losses came by double digits to Boise State and San Jose State — the two teams playing in the Mountain West title game — while their three victories over Navy, New Mexico and Utah State are by an average margin of 29.7 points. But the combined record of the three teams Air Force has beaten is just 6-17. So perhaps with this game against Army, the Falcons are finally meeting an equal adversary. Defending the run has been a strength for Air Force, and if the Falcons are as good against Army’s option attack as they were against Navy’s in a 40-7 win back in October, then they will have a great chance to claim the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy.
Army: When a service academy coach who runs an option-oriented system is getting buzz for major job openings, you know things are going well. That’s certainly the case for Monken, who has his team sitting at 8-2. The Black Knights even snuck briefly into the AP Top 25 poll after a 2-0 start before much of the country had started playing. Though its status as an independent program made getting a full schedule tough amid the pandemic, Army’s 15-0 win over arch-rival Navy last week solidified that this is another good team assembled by Monken, who has now led the Black Knights to four winning seasons in the last five years after a long period of struggle for the program.
Air Force at Army prediction, picks
Air Force hasn’t played a decent opponent since losing to Boise State on Oct. 31, and now the Falcons must travel cross-country to play an Army team that gets a second home game in two weeks against a rival opponent. The Black Knights are riding high off a shutout win over Navy and are ready to defend a similar Air Force team as underdogs on their home field. Pick: Army (+3)