NCAA Football: Army at Air Force

No. 25 Air Force lost a 23-3 shocker against Army to shake up the race for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. With the loss, the Army vs. Navy will earn at least a share of the trophy when the rivals play on Dec. 9 in Foxborough, Massachusetts

The Black Knights scored 17 points in the first quarter alone as quarterback Bryson Daily broke off a 62-yard run on the fourth play of the game to set the tone. He was dominant on the ground with 170 yards and two touchdowns in the victory as Army bulldozed its way to 213 yards rushing in one of the best performances of the year. 

Air Force quarterback Zac Larrier has been one of the best option players in the nation this season, but he had a day to forget. Larrier threw a pair of interceptions and was held to 2.3 yards per carry. Air Force came into the matchup averaging 5.2 yards per carry and a nation-leading 300 yards rushing per game, but was held to just 155 yards rushing and 3.9 yards per carry as a team against the rival. 

The loss has major implications in the race for the New Year's Six bid as Air Force ranked as the second-best Group of Five team in the rankings, trailing only No. 24 Tulane. With the loss, the Falcons have a difficult path to playing their way past the Green Wave in the rankings. It also opens the door to SMU or Liberty to play their way into G5 contention. The top-ranked Group of Five team gets an automatic bid to a New Year's Six. 

Additionally, the victory is a major beacon of hope for both Army and Navy, which have stumbled out to a combined 6-11 record. Air Force beat Navy 17-6 on Oct. 21, which put them in pole position for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. However, a split against Army means that the Black Knights can win the trophy outright with a win over Navy for the first time since 2020. An Army loss would lead to a shared trophy between all three teams as Army, Navy and Air Force would all have a single win. 

If the three teams tie for the trophy, the physical award will remain in possession of the 2022 winner, Air Force. Amazingly, the three service academies have only tied for the trophy five times since the award was established in 1972. 

Notably, the 2023 award will also be the final for the forseeable future with an FBS independent. Army announced plans to join the American Athletic Conference as a football-only member in 2024, joining Navy. Air Force plays in the Mountain West.