The location was different, there were no traffic jams four hours before kickoff and, in truth, it wasn't a completely neutral site even though both schools made every possible attempt to make Michie Stadium appear to be no different on Saturday than Lincoln Financial Field would have felt in a normal year.
In the end though, the most important aspect of Army-Navy was the same: the way it FELT. Let's face it, the March-ons of the Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipmen could take place in the parking lot of the McDonald's just outside the Thayer Gate and they'd still give you chills. The same would be true of the singing of the alma maters.
And, if the two teams decided to play one another on The Plain, (where the first Army-Navy game was played 130 years ago) the intensity wouldn't go down even one tick. That may explain why the players briefly skirmished after the clock went to zero and Army had earned the right to sing second with a convincing 15-0 win. Army had waited 364 days to play this game; Navy was attempting to save a lost season.
Yes, the atmosphere was surreal—only the cadets and the midshipmen (who had a 2 a.m. wake-up call in Annapolis in order to board buses to arrive in time for the march-ons) and a handful of VIPs from the two schools were allowed inside the stadium. Throw in the fog and darkness that rolled in at kickoff and never went away and you had football in The Twilight Zone. How hard was it to see? Both coaches brought most of their assistants who normally sit in the press box to the sidelines for the second half because they couldn't see the game from upstairs.
To say that both teams played hard is a little like saying the sun is likely to rise in the east tomorrow. It's Army-Navy; everyone plays their guts out. Occasionally, one team is just a lot better than the other and the game’s not close. That was the case a year ago when Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry ran wild for 304 yards and the Mids won 31-7—breaking a three- game losing streak against the Black Knights.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, who had shaken up his coaching staff after the third loss, declared afterwards that his team had, “gotten our domination back.”
Monken was as upset and angry about the loss as Niumatalolo was gleeful. The two men are friends, having been on Paul Johnson's staff at Navy together years ago, but there is no love lost when it comes to competing with one another. Monken decided to bring Nate Woody in as his defensive coordinator and Army's defense was outstanding all fall—opening the season with a shutout and then shutting Navy out for the first time since 1969. Read more.