Aside from the typical midseason TV-directed time changes (more on them later), the 2014 service academy slate is just about set. And as sweltering summer temperatures signal the beginning of full-pad practices and traditional preseason speculation, here’s a few things for the more-than-casual academy football fan to take notice of:
1. A normal Saturday slate. Aside from a trio of games in late November, including two on the day after Thanksgiving, every service academy game will be played during a time typically reserved for college football. Last year, Air Force alone played four non-Saturday games.
2. Mids going big time: One-third of Navy’s 12-game schedule will be contested in stadiums that host NFL teams — two games in Baltimore (season-opener vs. Ohio State and season-closer vs. Army), one in Philadelphia (Week 2 vs. Temple) and one in Landover, Maryland, home of the Washington Redskins (Nov. 1 vs. Notre Dame).
3. Home cooking: Navy won’t leave the state of Maryland between its Oct. 11 home game vs. VMI and hosting Georgia Southern on Nov. 15. Army makes the two-hour drive to New Haven, Connecticut, to face Yale on Sept. 27, then has two home games before a trip to Ohio to face Kent State Oct. 18, another home game versus Air Force, and a Nov. 8 trip to Yankee Stadium to face Connecticut. Air Force’s longest homestand is two games and they won’t be easy; the Falcons host Boise State and Navy on back-to-back weeks.
4. Program your remote: At least six of the 14 football weekends leading up to the Army-Navy game will feature multiple service academies squaring off on the CBS family of networks. And the Dec. 13 Army-Navy game will be on CBS at 3 p.m., live from Baltimore.
5. Early lines: Even though the schedule’s barely set, the folks at The Golden Nugget already have some wagering information out. Ohio State is favored by 14 points over Navy in the opener for both schools; Notre Dame’s a field-goal favorite over the Mids for early November; and the Black Knights are 13-point underdogs to Navy in their Dec. 13 clash. Navy was a nine-point favorite on the early line last year.
Before clicking through to the full schedule, clipping it out and affixing it to the wall next to your television set for optimal Saturday visibility, remember three words that are part of every college football TV slate: Subject to change.
TV rights-holders, mainly ESPN and CBS, can move around game times and networks just weeks, even days, before kickoff. And the trickle-down theory is in full effect — one surprisingly good (or bad) matchup in any given week could throw off the entire schedule. But below, for planning purposes, is how the 2014 service academy slate looks as August practices loom (keep an eye on our good friends at FBSchedules.com for the latest schedule news and updates). All times Eastern:
Aug. 30: Navy vs. Ohio State at Baltimore, noon, CBS Sports Network; Nicholls State at Air Force, 2 p.m., ESPN3
Sept. 6: Buffalo at Army, noon, CBS Sports Network; Navy at Temple (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia), 1 p.m., ESPN3; Air Force at Wyoming, 10:15 p.m., ESPNU
Sept. 13: Air Force at Georgia State, 2 p.m., ESPN3; Army at Stanford, 5 p.m. Pac-12 Network; Navy at Texas State, 8 p.m., ESPNEWS
Sept. 20: Rutgers at Navy, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network; Army at Wake Forest, time/TV TBA
Sept. 27: Army at Yale, noon, no TV; Western Kentucky at Navy, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network; Boise State at Air Force, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Oct. 4: Ball State at Army, noon, CBS Sports Network; Navy at Air Force, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Oct 11: Rice at Army, noon, CBS Sports Network; VMI at Navy, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network; Air Force at Utah State, time/TV TBD (ESPN networks)
Oct. 18: Army at Kent State, 3:30 p.m., no TV; New Mexico at Air Force, 3:30 p.m., Root Sports
Oct. 25: San Jose State at Navy, 1 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Nov. 8: Army vs. Connecticut at Yankee Stadium, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network; Air Force at UNLV, 4 p.m., Mountain West Network
Nov. 15: Army at Western Kentucky, noon, CBS Sports Network; Nevada at Air Force, 2 p.m., Root Sports; Georgia Southern at Navy, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Nov. 21 (Friday): Air Force at San Diego State, 9:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Nov. 22: Fordham at Army, noon, CBS Sports Network
Nov. 28 (Friday): Colorado State at Air Force, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network; Navy at South Alabama, time TBD, ESPN3
Dec. 13: Army vs. Navy at Baltimore, 3 p.m., CBS