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Dr. Saturday

Army-Navy gets the college football spotlight this weekend

(USA Today Sports Images)Only one time from the start of the college football season to the end of the calendar year does FBS schedule just one game on a Saturday.

Army vs. Navy has a special place in the college football landscape.

Plenty of college football fans will ignore the game this Saturday, for the obvious reasons. The game features two teams that haven't been among the elite in college football for decades. Navy has been a consistent bowl team at least, and is going to back to another with its seven wins already this year. Army collected just two wins all year, and lost to Stony Brook. The two teams won't play a game that is received well by anyone who likes passing football. The two teams have completed just 130 passes combined so far this season.

Yet, those who love this rivalry game - and there are many, judging by the 5.5 million, more than all but five of CBS' 18 nationally televised regular-season games last year, according to SportsMediaWatch.com - it's a great annual event.

There are many things that make this game unique, but one thing all football fans can appreciate is how hard the teams play in this rivalry. I covered Air Force for a couple years, and the level of intensity in all the service academy games is remarkable. The players give everything they've got for three hours. And since they all run reasonably similar schemes, there aren't many surprises. It's just a battle of wills. Add the pageantry, the history, the unusual fact that these players are going off to serve our country after graduation, and Army-Navy makes for a great college football game, regardless of records or passing yards.

This is a rivalry that runs year round, with some great, fun pranks like goat stealing. Bloomberg.com reported that someone hacked into the Naval Academy email system and sent the following message:

"Vice Admiral Michael H. Miller
Dec 5
to goarmysinknavy, AllUSNA, USCC, BTD

Greetings,

In preparation for the humiliating defeat Army will be dealing to us in the near future, I have some guidance to pass down.

First: when we stage for march-on, we need to clean up our act. The internet has us pegged as dirty slobs— this year, we need to bring trash bags and clean up after ourselves. From what I understand, Army is embarrassed to even be associated with us.

Second: clean up the actual march-on. Please at least pretend to be in the military. Dress right dress, don't talk at attention, etc. Seriously, this one is too easy.

Third: we need to have better accountability of our goats. This is also very embarrassing.

Fourth: when Army sings second, we will be respectful and professional.

Fifth: we need to be better at cyber.

Finally, I award you all with PMI (sleep ins) until Christmas. Maybe even a little longer, depending on how morale is going after Army defeats us on Saturday.

Cheers.
Go Army, Sink Navy!"

The rivalry has been discussed at length in a book by John Feinstein, and in Showtime's great "A Game of Honor" documentary last year. Here's the trailer for the documentary (it's highly recommended for any college football fan):

Army and Navy will be playing with the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, which goes to the winner of the round-robin service academy schedule, at stake this year. Usually Air Force figures in the mix, but Army and Navy swept Air Force this year for only the second time since 1996. Army has a chance to win the trophy for the first time since that year. The winner of the trophy gets a trip to the White House to meet the President, one of the coolest perks in college football.

On Saturday, there's just one FBS college football game to watch. If you're not already an Army-Navy fan, give it a try.

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