Dec 10, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Army Black Knights running back Tyler Campbell (22) runs past two Navy Midshipmen defenders during the third quarter of the 117 annual Army Navy game at M&T Bank Stadium. Army Black Knights defeated Navy Midshipmen 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The college football regular season officially closes the books on the 2017 season on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia with the playing of the 118th Army-Navy Game. The tradition, the rivalry, the atmosphere, the pageantry, and the pride all combine to make the Army-Navy Game one of college football’s best rivalries going. What could make it even better? How about a little snow?

The latest weather forecasts for Philadelphia are showing a 100% chance of snow on Saturday, with the flaky white stuff beginning to fall in the City of Brotherly Love beginning around 4:00 AM and continuing throughout the day, and through the entire game.

This has the makings of a truly special scene at Lincoln Financial Field. The snow is being predicted to start dying down during the game, but even a dash of snow being added to the picturesque scene of Army and Navy in their special uniforms and the fans in the stands is the perfect way to cap the regular season before transitioning over to the college bowl season next week.

Fortunately, the potential for snow should not impact how the game itself will be played. Army and Navy already operate purely on an option running game, which has become the norm over the years with Army and Navy (and Air Force). If anything, the condition of the field could make for some slippery surfaces that could be an issue, but do not expect either team to really be affected by the weather.

The key players you will be seeing running the game will be the quarterbacks. Army’s Ahmad Bradshaw has rushed for 1,472 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Bradshaw was a key player in last season’s long-awaited victory over the Midshipmen with 129 rushing yards and a touchdown. Navy’s Zach Abey is just behind him in the national rankings for rushing yardage per game with 1,322 yards and 14 touchdowns. Expect both to rack up the yardage again as the leaders of their respective teams.

Army and Navy are a combined 4-0 this season in games they net zero passing yards. With the incoming snow, don’t be surprised if the passing totals are low once again. Can we get an Army-Navy Game with zero combined passing yards? I’d love to see that.

The newest Army-Navy Game Tradition: The Uniforms

And have I mentioned the uniforms? Army and Navy have established a relatively newer tradition to add to the game by wearing special uniforms. Some years have been better than others on both sides. Here’s what they’ll be wearing this weekend. Army may blend in if the snow is coming down.

Who will sing second?

Last year, Army snapped a 14-game losing streak to their rivals from Annapolis. It was a long time coming and led to fans from the Army side of the stadium to rush the field and celebrate together. This wasn’t just any upset victory in a rivalry game. This one carries deep emotion like few other rivalries can.

Last year as I walked around the field soaking in the atmosphere, I was asked to take a handful of photos for Army fans wanting to remember this moment for years to come. There were some fans down on one knee in tears as the realization of winning this game finally happened again. So it begs the question; can Army beat Navy again?

They absolutely can.

Geoff Monken has done a fantastic job coaching the Army program. The Black Knights are already heading to a bowl game this season with a winning record regardless of the outcome of this weekend’s Army-Navy Game. Army is 8-3 with the only losses this season coming against Ohio State (Big Ten champion), Tulane (a team that should be in a bowl game if not for a blown instant replay by the AAC, Navy’s conference), and Conference USA runner-up North Texas. Not a bad loss among them, really. Two of the losses were by a combined seven points, while losing by 31 points at Ohio State is hardly inexcusable for a service academy.

On the other sideline, however, Ken Niumatalo will be looking to coach his Midshipmen to another victory in the rivalry. Niumatalolo had dominated Army over the years since taking over the job for Georgia Tech-bound Paul Johnson. The biggest difference for Navy this year will be getting the time off before playing the Army-Navy Game.

Last year, Navy played in the American Athletic Conference championship game, and not only did they lose to Temple, but they also took some critical injuries before getting to play Army. Because Army and Navy insist on playing this game on its own day at the end of the season (which I fully endorse), Navy could potentially have that conflict again. This year, however, Navy may benefit by getting that extra week off to be in better shape for the game.

The Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy on the line

Adding just a little more spice to the rivalry this year, in addition to the snow, is the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy. The award given to the annual winner of the three-way series between Army, Navy, and Air Force will be on the line this weekend. And for the first time since 2012, the trophy will go to the winner of this game. Air Force won the trophy in 2014 and 2016, and only Navy had been able to clinch the trophy in 2013 and 2015. Air Force has won the award 20 times, and Navy has taken the trophy home 15 times. Army has a drought to end though. The Black Knights have won the trophy just six times, with the most recent season coming in 1996.

The last time Army won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, the Army-Navy Game was played in Veterans Stadium. A lot has happened in college football since then. Navy is 10-0 in the Army-Navy Game when played in Lincoln Financial Field, the site of this year’s game once again.

Everything about the Army-Navy Game is magical. It has an atmosphere that most bowl games in December can only dream of. Whether you root for Army or for Navy, you carry a mutual respect for the other, because you understand the players playing in this game will one day be on the same team defending and protecting our country. Opponents on the football field, brothers on the battlefield.

Go Army. Go Navy. You’re both winners in my book.

Baker Mayfield wins the 2017 Heisman Trophy

Dec 2, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs in the Big 12 Championship game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

As I noted earlier this week, the Heisman Trust only inviting three finalists to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York on Saturday could suggest we will see a closer-than-expected vote for the stiff-armed trophy. the more likely scenario is Mayfield is the runaway winner of the Heisman Trophy and finalists Bryce Love and Lamar Jackson are just there to watch his acceptance speech while having enough distance between them and whoever comes in fourth place in the final voting.

It is essentially a foregone conclusion Mayfield is going to win the Heisman Trophy. Bovada even took the Heisman odds off the board a few weeks back because Mayfield was such a lopsided favorite. Mayfield will become Oklahoma’s sixth Heisman Trophy winner in school history, bringing the Sooners one Heisman Trophy closer to the all-time high of seven, currently shared by Notre Dame and Ohio State… and USC. The official records may show USC with just six Heisman Trophy winners, but all know Reggie Bush won one too even though it no longer appears on the records.

Mayfield’s acceptance speech will no doubt be the moment the narrative attempts to shift on the Sooners quarterback. A season of negative headlines will be overlooked once Mayfield steps tot he podium, poses for some photos and makes his acceptance speech to the crowd. It will be Mayfield’s moment to shine as he then prepares to lead Oklahoma on a possible College Football Playoff run.

Enjoy your last official weekend of regular season college football, and enjoy some of those FCS, Division 2, and Division 3 playoffs if you get the chance. Mount Union and UW-Oshkosh in a semifinal matchup of unbeaten teams should be a ton of fun. We get started with the bowl season next week.


About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.