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119th Army-Navy football showdown is this Saturday, Dec. 8

The U.S. Military Academy Black Knights practice Dec. 8, 2014 (EJ Hersom/DoD)
December 03, 2018

The 119th Army vs. Navy football game will take place on Saturday, Dec. 8, at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. The game starts at 3 p.m. EST.

This game, the most renowned tradition in college football, will conclude the season when the two teams meet.

The Navy leads the series with a record of 60-51-7 in the 118 times the two teams have faced off, CBS Sports recently reported.

Army won last year with a score of 14-13.

This year, the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen meet on the frozen tundra – the Army in their best performing season in more than two decades, and the Navy under the leadership of a coach that has more wins than any other coach in the history of the Navy, CBS pointed out.

The Army is on a two-year winning streak against the Navy, which hasn’t happened since they took five straight wins from 1992 to 1996.

The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) and United States Military Academy (USMA) football teams are strong rivals, a tradition that started in 1890 when a Navy football player challenged USMA Cadet Dennis Mahan Michie to a game and he accepted, according to Mental Floss.

Only three games were played before a four-year suspension, from 1894 to 1898, over a tiff between a rear admiral and a brigadier general.

Both teams could only play home games during the four-year period so they wouldn’t meet up again. But in 1899, both teams were back in action and all games would then be played on neutral turf in Philadelphia.

Since 1899, Philly has been home to the Army-Navy game 83 times.

New York has hosted the pair 11 times, Baltimore and East Rutherford have hosted them each four times; and Chicago, Pasadena and Princeton have each hosted them once.

While the two teams are mass rivals, they are still fond of each other and have carried out traditions ritualistically every year.

Every year on the Friday before game day, the Army and Navy Pep Bands visit the Pentagon at separate times and perform pep rallies to get everyone hyped up.

In another tradition, teams of students are issued by both rival schools to run footballs from their campuses to the stadium. The Midshipmen have run the football from Annapolis to the playing field since 1982.

The USMA runs the ball from West Point to the playing field. Both teams must run at night when it is bitter cold.

Another tradition is the “prisoner exchange,” where juniors are the prisoners.

These are not just any juniors – they are juniors who have been assigned to stay in “enemy territory,” and during the exchange, they are both handed back to their own school for a brief time.

When the football game is over, regardless of who won or lost, the rivalry is over and in a show of “mutual respect and solidarity,” both teams join together and sing both alma maters.

The winner of the biggest game in college football history is awarded the Thompson Cup, named for donor Robert M. Thompson.

Tradition doesn’t stop there.

USNA has two “Victory Bells” that line up on the steps of Bancroft Hall, the largest single dormitory in the world and home to the Midshipmen.

If Navy defeats Army, the bells ring repeatedly from the announcement of the final score until the team gets back to Bancroft Hall, and then the Japanese Bell rings one time for every point they received.

One common ground that both teams share is that the Army-Navy game is the last football game the seniors play before being deployed to serve their country.

This article has been edited to reflect the start time of the game. The headline has also been edited to exclude “how to watch.”