ARMED FORCES BOWL: NAVY 24, MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE 6

The Navy defense picked a good time to turn in their two finest performances of the season, saving their best for last.

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ARMED FORCES BOWL PREVIEW: MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE

The Armed Forces Bowl was originally supposed to be between Navy and a Mountain West team. With my new high-capacity DVR, I was going to be prepared. I recorded every Mountain West game I could find, including all of Air Force’s and New Mexico’s televised conference games to see how their opponents defended the option. Whatever Mountain West team Navy would be lining up against, I was ready for them.

LOL at me.

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NAVY 34, ARMY 7

Looking at the final statistics from Saturday, you might think that this year’s edition of Army-Navy was completely different from the nip-and-tuck affairs of the recent past. This looked like a blowout, with Navy winning 34-7 and out-gaining Army 343-157 on the ground. There is no greater truth than the scoreboard, so in that I suppose you could call the game a rout. It sure didn’t feel that way as it happened, though, and once you dig a little deeper into the numbers you can see why. Both teams struggled to convert on 3rd downs, and combined for 12 punts. Four runs made up 165 of Navy’s rushing yards; it took 53 more to get the other 178, which is why the game felt like such a grind. Take those long runs away, and Navy’s advantage becomes a lot more modest. Unfortunately for Army, the big plays count as much as any other, and the Mids’ ability to make them was the difference in the game.

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ARMY WEEK: LET’S TALK UNIFORMS

I assume that by now you’ve all seen what Navy will be wearing at Saturday’s Army-Navy game. If not, then point your face at these glorious images and bask in their warm glow of excellence.

These are the home version of last year’s equally fantastic Nike uniforms, and I sort of wish that this was our permanent setup. It’s modern, yet still restrained, and undeniably Navy. I know some of you don’t like the look, and it’s understandable. You can’t be blamed for your horrible taste. What one could be blamed for, however, is saying that you don’t want something new because of “tradition.” Navy’s only uniform tradition is one of constant change. Sometimes it’s evolutionary, sometimes it’s revolutionary, but it’s always changing. The uniform that Navy wears now is different from the one from ten years ago, which was different from the one from ten years before that. Designs have changed, colors have changed, helmets have changed. We’ve seen all manner of combinations of blue, gold, and white between shirts and pants, complete with various stripes and shoulder hoops and patches and whatever else you can think of. Then there’s the helmets, which have had anchors (awesome, awesome anchors), numbers, and stripes at times over the years. And all that is before you factor in what Navy has worn for the Army-Navy game, which has had all kinds of bonkers stuff. And that’s Navy’s uniform tradition: to have fun with them. Despite what the “down in front” sourpuss that sits behind you at NMCMS and leaves at halftime says, football should be fun.

When people say “tradition,” what they’re really saying is that they want Navy to be plain. That’s fine if that’s your taste, but it’s not the same as tradition. Did Navy fans of the ’40s complain that uniforms didn’t look like this anymore? I don’t know, but if they did I’m glad that nobody listened to them. Navy isn’t Alabama or Penn State, where the traditional football uniform is part of the brand image of the program (and the school for that matter). Navy’s brand is defined by other things. That doesn’t mean that any change is great simply because it’s new; there’s a certain classiness that we want to convey, and nobody wants to look at a jumbled mess. But if something sharp comes along that helps showcase the Navy team, I say go for it. If you don’t like it, don’t worry. It’ll probably change in a few years anyway.

(Seriously, though. Anchors.)

WESTERN KENTUCKY 19, NAVY 7

You know, somewhere there’s a Navy fan that had a wedding or something to go to on Saturday, so he could only catch the beginning of the game. After watching a Navy touchdown drive and two Western Kentucky three & outs, he probably walked out the door thinking “we got this” and didn’t give the game a second thought the rest of the night. When he looked at the box score the next morning, he discovered that in the 9 minutes he watched of that game, he saw 1/3 of Navy’s total offensive production. I don’t know if he’s lucky to have missed that debacle, or unlucky to experience the shock the next day.

Either way, we all get to relive it now!

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