Air Force and Navy will meet in the first chapter of the battle for the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy on Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. The matchup of the Falcons and Midshipmen will kick off CBS' coverage of the 2021 college football season. The 2021 season marks the 50th year for the Commander-In-Chief's trophy competition -- the annual battle between Army, Navy and Air Force for supremacy among the service academies. All three of this year's games in the round robin will be broadcast on CBS, starting with this Saturday's game and concluding with Army-Navy on Dec. 11.
The game being held on the 20-year anniversary of 9/11 adds another layer to his historic rivalry. Both teams will be wearing alternate uniforms for the occasion, there will be a 9/11 tribute at halftime and many more added activities to the gameday experience.
On the field we've got what should be a great matchup between two programs that have alternated wins in this series every year since 2013. Air Force won handily in last year's game 40-7 but this year the game returns to Annapolis where Navy leads 12-8 in the series as the true home team.
Navy vs. Air Force: Need to know
Navy defense looking for a bounce back: The Midshipmen have one of the better linebackers in the country in Diego Fagot, and the senior enters this showdown coming off six tackles and a tackle for loss in the season opening loss against Marshall. But that defense, which is the stronger unit of the team, needs a bounce back after allowing 464 yards at 7.4 yards per play in the 42-point loss to the Thundering Herd. Air Force won't be able to pose the kind of passing threat they faced last week, but it's still of the utmost importance that Navy limits the explosive plays because how it guts what can be strong effort from the defense during a drive.
Haaziq Daniels leads Air Force offensive attack: The junior quarterback ran for three touchdowns and played well as the point man of an offense that totaled 370 rushing yards in its Week 1 win against Lafayette. Daniels scored his first career touchdown in last year's win against Navy and he's looking to tap back into that success again, pairing with fullback Brad Roberts in the back field and wide receiver Micah Davis as the big-play threat in the ground game.
Air Force looking to snap Commander-In-Chief's Trophy drought: The Falcons had the edge in this round robin rivalry with Army and Navy at the start of the last decade, winning the trophy four times between 2010-16, and have the most Commander-In-Chief's Trophy wins (20) in the series. But Air Force hasn't been able to break through with wins against both Army and Navy since 2016 and this spot, favored by nearly a touchdown against the Midshipmen, could be the start of putting together another a run that snaps that drought.
How to watch Navy vs. Air Force live
Navy vs. Air Force prediction, picks
First, the play for this and all Commander-In-Chief's Trophy games is the under. The under has hit at an astonishing rate since 2005 and even as the numbers continue to drop the style of play contributes to fewer possessions and lower scoring. So in predicting a close, low-scoring game I have to back the home underdog that hasn't lost in Annapolis in a decade. Prediction: Navy (+6)
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