Army vs. Navy Football Game: The Top 10 Games of All Time

How many of you watched the Army vs Navy football game this year? It was a great game, but those Midshipmen of Navy squeaked another win out. Well, we will just say that the Army Black Knights were getting better prepared for their duties to the defense of the United States instead of practicing football.

It sounded like a good excuse to me.

No matter the outcome, the Army and Navy annual football rivalry is fun to watch, and has been so for many years. I decided to do some heavy research and develop an article that may receive a lot of debate. That is fine, as I love debate.

In today’s post, I am going to provide what I believe to be the top 10 Army vs. Navy football games of all time. Take a look at my list, and tell me your thoughts and opinions at the end of this article.

10: 1923

This game was played at the Polo Grounds in New York City on a cold November 24th. It was a first in the Army and Navy game, and a seldom occurrence in any college football games. The final score was a tie, but not just any tie… It was 0-0. While many people may say that would be boring, I say that a game like that shows that both teams had outstanding defense. Army did come close in the 4th quarter when they blocked a Navy punt, but the punter recovered the ball inside Navy’s own 10 yard line. Navy had to punt again after that series of plays, and the exact same thing happened; the punt was blocked and the punter recovered the blocked punt. Navy held on and tied the game. Navy’s record that year took them to the Rose Bowl against Washington, and they tied there too… 14 to 14.

9: 1963

This was a sad game that was played at Philadelphia Stadium on December 7th of 1963. Why was it sad? President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated on November 22nd, and the game was scheduled for November 30th. The First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy requested that the game be played as she knew her husband would have wanted that.

Navy’s quarterback that year was a junior by the name of Roger Staubach. You younger people may not remember this great quarterback who was a star with the Dallas Cowboys. He led the Midshipmen to a 21 to 15 victory over the Army Black Knights.

8: 1948

This was claimed to be one of the most exciting and dramatic Army/Navy games in history. Played on November 27th at Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Army had an undefeated season, and Navy just the opposite… they had no wins. While many thought it would be a lopsided game, it was just the opposite. The Army team suffered from a case of food poisoning the night before, and this hurt their play. The final score was 21 to 21, and Army was ranked #6 in the nation at season’s end.

7: 1956

Played an a very cold December 1st at Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia, this was a game of turnovers. Fumbles and interceptions were the name of this Army and Navy game. As a matter of fact, the only scores that were made were from turnovers. 1956 resulted in another tie… 7 to 7 was the score when the Black Knights and the Midshipmen met in midfield to congratulate each other.

6: 1905

This was the first, and the last Army/Navy game to be played at Osborne Field in Princeton, New Jersey. It seems that the Princeton University President urged the military officials to use Osborne Field for the game scheduled for December 2nd. They agreed with regret. The crowds were so heavy that the game started late. The game was stopped because of darkness with 4+ minutes left in the game. The final was 6 to 6.

5: 1965

This game that was played on November 27th at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia was exciting in its own right. It was pure defense. Between the 2 teams, there were only 353 yards of offense in the whole game. This was hard hitting football at its best, and it was a 7 to 7 tie.

4: 1945

Before this December 1st game to be played at Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia, it was being called the Game of the Century. Army was undefeated and ranked #1 in the nation; Navy was also undefeated and ranked #2 in the nation. World War II had just ended and everyone was prepared to watch a spectacular game. The game really wasn’t the frizz the people expected, because Army stomped the Midshipmen with a score of 32 to 13.

3: 1981

I remember this game as I was scheduled to enter Army Basic Training in just a few months. This game was played on November 28th at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Army had had a difficult season with only 3 wins, and Navy had a good season and were scheduled to be in the Liberty Bowl. Army had a huge desire to win this game, and the long rivalry was at its height. Army held Navy down and the end was a tie of 3 to 3.

2: 1926

This game was being played on November 27th at Soldier Field in Chicago. It was not only a dedication to the fearless heroes who fought in World War I, it would also be the game that decided the National Championship. Navy had an undefeated season and Army had only lost 1 game to Notre Dame. It was a hard battle throughout the game and ended in a 21 to 21 tie. The Navy Midshipmen were given the National Championship.

1: 1893

This game has 2 things about it that gave it the #1 status. It was 6 years after this game before another Army and Navy game would be played. The reason for that was the violence that occurred during this game. There were so many injuries that many Doctors thought these military football players had just come home from a war. An Army Brigadier General punched a Navy Admiral and the Navy Admiral requested a duel. I am not sure if the gentleman gun fight ever took place. President Grover Cleveland called a meeting, and Army and Navy football teams could now only play home games. This lasted until 1899.

Another case of this game that was played at Worden Field in Annapolis, Maryland was the first football helmet. Future Admiral Joseph Reeves was told that if he was kicked in the head one more time he may become insane or die. A leather helmet was made for him. Navy won this close game 6 to 4.

Final Thoughts

This is my list of the top 10 Army vs. Navy football games. Do you concur with my list, or do you feel there should be different games here? Feel free to comment below with your opinions.

By the way, the game for 2015 was also played in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field. The Navy Midshipmen won with a score of 21 to Army’s 17.

C’mon Black Knights… it is time to win one in 2016.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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