The 2017 college football season will see Navy playing 12 regular season games with hopefully an American Athletic Conference Championship Game and Bowl Game thrown in for good measure. It is fair to say though that not every one of those games means the same. That is why this little primer looks at the Mids must-win and trap game for this fall.
Must-win: December 9 vs. Army (@ Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia)
This is always going to be the most must win game on the Mids schedule but in 2017 the contest takes on a little more significance. Last season the Black Knights took down the Mids 21-17 in a victory that stopped Navy’s 14-year winning streak over Army dead in its tracks. Zach Abey was thrown into the fire in relief of the injured Will Worth and it was just a frustrating situation all round as Navy played through one of its worst first halves (offensively) in the history of the rivalry. Navy will be looking to immediately curtail any thoughts of Army turning that victory last year into a streak of its own and the best way for that to happen is to get immediate revenge and realign the dynamics of the two programs in Navy’s favor.
Must-win that isn’t Army: October 2 vs. Air Force
This is less to do with reclaiming the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy and most to do with righting the most mystifying loss of last season. The Falcons defeated the Mids 28-14 in Colorado Springs one week before the Navy offense finally found it’s rhythm against Houston. From this game until Worth went down injured the offense was barely recognizable and you better believe that Ken Niumatalolo has this game circled as one that Navy needs to win in dominating fashion.
Trap Game: September 2 at Florida Atlantic
The Mids schedule means that only one game each year is against an opponent that isn’t Army, Air Force, Notre Dame, or in the AAC. This year that extra game is on the road in Boca Raton, Florida, against a C-USA squad that was 3-9 last year with losses to the likes of Ball State, Charlotte, and Marshall. On the back this Florida Atlantic went out and hired Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin is a divisive personality, but putting him in control of a lower level program with a fertile recruiting ground like Florida on his doorstep is an incredibly shrewd move. Navy may have lucked out by getting Kiffin in his first game (and first season) because if he gets the recruiting going this could be a nasty program in a few years’ time.