Michie Stadium, located on the U.S. Military Academy’s campus at West Point, was built in 1924.
It has been the site of one Army-Navy football game, in 1943. The 121st annual renewal of arguably college football’s best rivalry this weekend will make it No. 2.
The Black Knights (7-2) will host the Midshipmen (3-6 overall, 3-4 in the American Athletic Conference) at 3 p.m. Saturday in a game nationally televised by CBS. Michie Stadium is hosting the game after it was moved from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia in October because of attendance limits on outdoor events in Pennsylvania caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Army is the designated home team this year, so the decision to change the location ensured the entire Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen could attend. No fans are expected to be allowed in the stadium.
“I don’t know that anything in this odd season that we’re having seems out of the ordinary,’’ Army coach Jeff Monken said. “I guess for me, it’s just a little more matter of fact that this is what we’ve got to do in order to pull this game off. Playing it here is just what we had to do. ’’
This meeting will be memorable, no matter the result.
The Army-Navy Game has been held on campus six times — the first four years (1890-93) that the service academies played; in 1942, when Navy won 14-0 at home; and in 1943, when Navy claimed a 13-0 victory. Since then, the game has been played at neutral sites in five cities, usually in Philadelphia. The rivalry has remained on the East Coast, except when Navy thumped Army 42-13 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in 1983.
“There are a lot of great rivalries in our country, but they’re all regional,’’ Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “As big as Ohio State and Michigan is, the people in Los Angeles don’t care about that. And the same thing with Oklahoma-Texas. The people in Maryland don’t care about that.
“The cool thing about this game is that in all 50 states, we all know someone who serves or has served in the Army or Navy or Marine Corps. It’s a game that really touches all of America.’’
Navy, whose 31-7 victory in 2019 gave it a 61-52-7 edge in the all-time series, has lost four games in a row.
While the Midshipmen are looking for their first victory in two months, defeating the Black Knights could help salvage a disappointing season, Niumatalolo said. The coach recalled in 2016, when Navy won its division of the AAC and defeated highly ranked Houston but lost to Army for the first time in 14 years.
“It’s Army week,’’ Niumatalolo said. “Our guys know what time it is. You don’t need a lot of rah-rah speeches.’’
The Midshipmen are led by Nelson Smith, who has rushed 117 times for 622 yards and eight touchdowns. Behind a balanced rushing attack, Army is averaging 296.7 yards per game on the ground — more than Navy’s average of 292.6 yards per game.
On Saturday, none of those stats will figure in the outcome.
And, Monken said, neither will the rivalry coming to West Point for the first time in 77 years.
“I’m not going to let emotion get in the way of me or my job and providing the leadership that our program needs,’’ said Monken, whose team will host Air Force on Dec. 19 before playing in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26 in Shreveport, Louisiana. “… All that nostalgia and all that stuff, we can talk about that after the game. We’ve got a job to do. Our job is to try to win the game.’’Read comments