Army-Navy and Then the Bowls Begin

Army-Navy and Then the Bowls Begin

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It used to be that there was a month or more between the final game of the college football regular season and the start of the bowls. Top teams would finish their season in late November, learn their bowl assignments and have a month or more to prepare.

That extended preparation still exists, but not for all teams. Moreover, the traditional Army-Navy game officially ends the regular season as it is held on the second Saturday in December. This year’s game comes one week after all the conference championships were decided and one week before the first bowl games are held.

Credit fans’ insatiable appetite for football for the changes. And money, of course. The college football season now begins in late August and extends into mid-January, the latter change coming about as the four-team playoff system kicks in.

Here’s what you can look for over the coming weeks:

Army v. Navy

Army and Navy haven’t fielded top ranked teams in years, but the pageantry associated with this contest hasn’t changed. Football purists love this game as it pits two teams that play for pride and also play to represent the nation.

This year, the Army-Navy game will be played in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium. The 6-5 Midshipmen are bowl bound and will travel to San Diego to play San Diego State in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 23. Navy received a bowl bid based on meeting the required six win criteria, something the 4-7 Black Knights cannot claim.

The two teams first met in 1890 and have played annually since 1930. Navy has 58 wins, Army has won 49 times and there have been seven ties. Navy has won the last 12 contests, by far the longest streak ever in this series. Army last beat Navy in 2001 and is the underdog for this game too. If the Black Knights do manage to sink the Midshipmen, they’ll defy the two-touchdown odds against them and break the noose hanging around their necks.

First Bowl Games

Playing a bowl game on the first day of the bowl season, Dec. 20, either means you weren’t particularly good or you happened to simply draw a low-profile bowl. If you live in Utah, both Utah and Utah State play on that Saturday, followed by BYU on Monday.

Of the earlier bowls, the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 20 pitting the 8-4 Utah Utes against the 10-2 Colorado State Rams should prove entertaining. The Utes finished in 5th place in the Pac 12 South (thus, this bowl), but were 5-4 in the tough Pac 12. Two highlights for Utah this year were wins over ranked teams — UCLA, now ranked No. 14 and USC, now ranked No. 24. Utah comes in ranked at No. 22.

Colorado State surprised many people, finishing just behind Boise State in the Mountain division of the Mountain West Conference. The Ram’ first loss was to Boise State, 37 to 24, during the second week of the season and were upset by Air Force 27 to 24, to end the year.

The Rams’ success was noticed by many including the University of Florida which hired away head coach Jim McElwain when the regular season ended. Interim coach Dave Baldwin will fill in for the game. Utah is favored, one that should offer an offensive showcase.

Looking Beyond

Ten of the 35 bowl games will be played before Christmas and another 17 will be played between Christmas and the end of the year. On New Year’s Day there will be five games, including the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl games composing the college football playoff semifinals. Five more bowl games will played the first week of Jan. with the college football championship held on Jan. 12.

See AlsoIts Championship Weekend for College Football!

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