Navy goes west, Air Force goes blue and Army West Point goes … well, goes to West Point … as the college gridiron season enters the home stretch. What service academy football fans need to know this week:
1. The basics. Before launching into conference tiebreaker procedures, national rankings and a handful of what-if scenarios, here’s the slate for the coming weekend:
- Air Force (7-3, 5-1 Mountain West Conference) visits the blue field of Boise State (7-3, 4-2 MWC) on Friday night for an MWC Mountain Division showdown (9:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPN2).
- Army West Point (2-8) concludes its home schedule Saturday (noon Eastern, CBS Sports Network) against Rutgers (3-7) in what will be the last game for the Black Knights before the rivalry showdown with Navy on Dec. 12.
- Navy (8-1, 6-0 American Athletic Conference, No. 16 in College Football Playoff rankings) heads to Tulsa (5-5, 2-4 AAC) looking to keep its perfect conference record intact (7 p.m. Eastern, CBS Sports Network).
2. Conference championship chases. Both Navy and Air Force are atop their respective divisions and control their respective destinies when it comes to earning spots in their respective conference title games. Wins this week won’t clinch those spots, however, and both teams may be able to survive losses. A quick breakdown:
- Navy will face unbeaten Houston the day after Thanksgiving in a de facto playoff game for the AAC West title. Thanks to conference tiebreaker rules, the winner of that showdown will earn a spot in the Dec. 5 AAC title game regardless of this week’s outcomes. Houston visits Connecticut on Saturday afternoon.
- Air Force’s situation is a bit muddier, with three teams in the running for the MWC Mountain crown. The good news for the Falcons is that they’ll play two of those teams, Boise State and New Mexico, in the next 10 days. Two wins lock down the division, a 1-1 mark keeps the Falcons in play depending on other outcomes, and 0-2 leaves them out.
3. Grab a cold one. Craving a beer to relax after all those bullet points? A business launched by two West Point grads can get some of the best brews from around the nation to your door — maybe not right now, but in time for the Army-Navy game.
Barrel Backers, a San Francisco-based startup launched by Daniel Rivette (USMA ’01) and brother Adam (’03), offers what amounts to a crowd-funded shipping service for craft beers — users can pledge to purchase hard-to-get (and harder-to-ship) beer from across the nation, and if a given beer hits enough orders, it heads out the door. If not, the customer’s credit card isn’t charged.
The site went live in July, and many service members fall into one of the company’s key demographics, Daniel Rivette said: People whose occupations have taken them far from home, and far from their favorite brew.
“The transplant crew is a big segment of the audience,” he told After Action. “They’re happy to jump on the campaign and buy a case or two.”
The site’s big push for Army-Navy week: Offerings from Savannah, Georgia-based Service Brewing Co., whose CEO, Kevin Ryan, also graduated from West Point and served in the same unit as the Rivettes. More about Ryan’s company, which donates a portion of every sale to a service-connected charity, here and here.
There’s a Nov. 24 cutoff for orders to secure delivery by Dec. 12, Rivette said.
4. Navy’s Heisman hopeful. Senior leader. Starter at the game’s most difficult position since his freshman season, in an offense that requires split-second decisions and the ability to take serious punishment. Most rushing touchdowns of anybody who has played college football, ever. And if the season ended today, he would have led his team to an unbeaten conference record — in its first year of conference play — and a spot in a top-tier bowl game for the first time in about a half-century.
Others offer deeper dives into the matter, but that’s the short version of Keenan Reynolds’ case for taking home the Heisman Trophy, or at least earning a spot among the finalists for the award that will be presented Dec. 12 in New York City.
Reynolds already has plans in Philadelphia that afternoon. Judging by ESPN’s expert poll, he may need some headline-grabbing performances in the meantime to crack the guest list, but if he makes it …
Update to my @PressBoxOnline column. Been decided that if Reynolds IS Heisman finalist, @NavyFB will get him to NY. https://t.co/66wjoneSWx
— Glenn Clark (@GlennClarkRadio) November 19, 2015
His Heisman quest has its own unofficial Twitter account, with a homepage photo that should please young and old Navy fans alike.
5. Video of the week. Army West Point’s powerful gesture before last weekend’s game, which came hours after the attacks in Paris:
6. Odds and ends. Navy fans can vote for Reynolds in a Heisman poll here. … David Ramsey of the Colorado Springs Gazette sings the praises of resurgent Air Force quarterback Karson Roberts. … Air Force visits Boise State after the Broncos’ 31-24 upset loss to New Mexico last week. How much of an upset? A wager of $100 on New Mexico to win would’ve netted more than $6,500, according to some oddsmakers. A $100 wager on Holly Holm to beat Ronda Rousey would’ve been worth only about $1,250. …Navy ranks higher than Houston in the CFP standings, but most bowl projections still have the Cougars heading to the Peach or Fiesta bowl, with Navy staying in Annapolis for the Military Bowl.