Navy will play host to No. 22 Air Force on Saturday for the first head-to-head meeting between service academies this season. The Falcons are 6-0 and have been flawless through the first half as they sit as the highest-ranked Group of Five school in the AP Top 25 as they trek east to Annapolis, Maryland, to take on the Midshipmen in a game to be broadcast on CBS.
A Navy program that hasn't finished with more than four wins since going 11-2 in 2019 finds itself 3-3 in its first season under coach Brian Newberry, but the Midshipmen are riding the momentum of back-to-back victories against North Texas and Charlotte. An upset victory on Saturday would give Navy its first winning streak of three games or more since that 2019 campaign and mark consecutive years of beating a ranked opponent after a victory at UCF last November.
Air Force owns a 33-22 edge in the series with Navy, which dates back to 1960 and has been played annually since 1972. The Falcons have won each of the last three meetings and five of the last seven. Before the action kicks off on CBS, get caught up to speed on key storylines and more for the 56th all-time meeting between the academies.
How to watch Air Force vs. Navy live
Date: Saturday, Oct. 21 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium -- Annapolis, Maryland
TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
Streaming on Paramount+ with Showtime (Try It Free)
Air Force vs. Navy: Need to know
Falcons on a roll: Air Force sure looks bound for yet another 10-win season under coach Troy Calhoun based on what it has shown to this point. The Falcons don't currently track to face any ranked competition in the regular season, but they're averaging a 22.3-point margin of victory and just beat a resilient Wyoming squad in Week 7. All of that has Air Force eyeing a Mountain West championship, accompanied by hopes of becoming the first service academy to reach a New Year's Six bowl game as the designated Group of Five participant.
No Zac Larrier for Air Force: The Falcons are the antithesis of a pass-heavy offense -- they're averaging just 78(!) passing yards per game -- but the loss of their senior quarterback indefinitely due to a knee injury still hurts. Air Force is averaging 334.2 rushing yards per game, and Larrier is the team's second-leading rusher at 473 yards. The Falcons still have three other players who have rushed for more than 300 yards in 2023 -- fullback Emmanuel Michel leads the pack at 497 yards and eight touchdowns -- but the pressure increases for others to pick up the slack with Larrier sidelined.
Navy on the upswing? It hasn't been an easy stretch for the Midshipmen, who won a combined 11 games from 2020-22 after winning as many in a single season in 2019. That led to Newberry replacing Ken Niumatalolo this past offseason, and while Navy stumbled to a 1-3 start under Newberry, the program is now an upset victory away from sitting above .500 for the first time since October 2020. Air Force enters this game holding opponents to just 77 rushing yards on average, so Navy -- also a run-heavy team -- will presumably need to force a defensive struggle if they intend to hand the Falcons their first loss of the season.`
Air Force vs. Navy prediction
Odds via SportsLine consensus
The logical pick here is Air Force, but this also feels like a trap game for the Falcons as they begin to navigate life without their starting quarterback. While not Navy's "Super Bowl" -- that doesn't come until Army rolls around in mid-December -- the Midshipmen have every reason to play a bit more inspired Saturday with a home crowd on their side. Keep in mind, too, that Air Force had lost four consecutive trips to Annapolis before finally clearing that hurdle during its most recent visit in 2021. The Falcons will improve to 7-0, but it's going to be a fight for the majority of the afternoon before they pull away for a late cover. Pick: Air Force -10.5
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 8, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned more than $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.