On to phase three.
Phase one of the 2020 football season was to have a football season. After Army athletic director Mike Buddie gave him free reign to schedule anyone he could find, Army senior associate director Bob Beretta took care of that, building a 12-game schedule from the ashes of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phase two began on September 5th, when Middle Tennessee State came to Michie Stadium. Playing in front of the Corps of Cadets and the ghosts of Blanchard and Davis; Blaik and Thayer—all of them social-distancing—the Black Knights crushed the Blue Raiders 42-0 and life on post had something approaching normalcy: September and football had both arrived.
Since then, Army's had one game cancelled—Brigham Young--and has lost once—at Cincinnati, which is now 4-0 and ranked No. 9 with a bullet after trouncing previously-unbeaten SMU on Saturday.
Saturday's 49-3 rout of Mercer, also in front of the corps and the ghosts inside Michie, pushed Army's phase two record to 6-1. It also wrapped up a bowl bid for Coach Jeff Monken's team for the fourth time in five years. The Black Knights will travel to Shreveport to play in the Independence Bowl—their first appearance in that game since a dramatic 32-29 loss to Auburn in 1996.
Army became the first team to accept a bowl bid in college football's strangest season. How strange? Consider this: Army's opponent in Shreveport will be a to-be-named Pac-12 team that has NOT YET PLAYED A GAME. The conference, after cancelling its season in August said, 'never mind,' last month and will begin play in two weeks. Army will play its eighth game of the season on the same weekend that its bowl opponent will play its first.
Wait, there's more news from the Year of Covid-19. On Friday, the two schools announced that the Army-Navy game will take place as planned on December 12th, but will be played at Michie, not at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field. The reason for this is simple: By playing at West Point the entire corps and the entire brigade of midshipmen (and the ghosts) will be able to attend. Read more.