Navy vs. Air Force-One game worth watching

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 2004

Are you ready for some football? Usually that is the question that Hank Williams Jr. asks to kick off the NFL’s Monday Night Football each week on ABC television.

But I am asking the question for tonight – are you ready for some great college football on a Thursday?

Tonight on ESPN, Navy plays Air Force – two service academies clash with Pike’s Peak as the backdrop.

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Why such a big game? Well, for starters this is the game that Air Force always focuses on as THE GAME. Looking around Colorado Springs, which I am visiting on business, you can see signs of support everywhere. Both the Denver and local papers have run huge stories about THE GAME. Fans staying at the same hotel I am at, even at breakfast, were talking about THE GAME.

Look at both teams. Navy comes into the game 4-0 following a 29-26 win over Vanderbilt. Navy Senior quarterback Aaron Polanco rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown, while completing nine of his 14 pass attempts for 176 yards. Additionally, for the first time since 1996, Navy received a vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Navy is tied with Texas Tech, the same team they played in a bowl last year, for 35th in total points in the poll. What a difference two years makes.

Air Force comes into the game 2-2 having lost to No. 13 California, 56-14, and No. 14 Utah, 49-35. Freshman quarterback Shaun Carney is off to good start for the Falcons. He has rushed for 296 and four touchdowns and completed 40 of his 57 pass attempts (70.1 percent) for 525 yards and six touchdowns to six different receivers. Air Force has taken this game as a season maker.

They lead the overall series, 25-11, and holds a 14-3 advantage in games played at Colorado Springs.

There are other reasons both clubs will be ready to play. According to the Naval Academy Alumni Association, &uot;Thursday’s game marks the first leg of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, which is presented annually to the winner of the football competition among the three major

service academies and is named in honor of the President of the United States.

Air Force has won the trophy 16 times, while Navy and Army have won the trophy six times apiece.

So I ask again – are you ready for some football? In the case of tonight’s Navy-Air Force Game the answer should be yes! Airtime is 7 p.m. EST with the game kicking off at 7:45 EST. ESPN’s Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit call the action with Jill Arrington serving as the sideline reporter.

Joe DiRenzo III is a regular News-Herald columnist.