Bernard Sarra, sophomore nose guard is ready to take on Air Force in the game that almost wasn’t. Eye On Annapolis will be live blogging the game and will have a recap, as usual, after the dust settles and Air Force is sent packing.
This game almost was not played due to the government shut down. At the last minute, Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel gave the green light and the kickoff is scheduled for 11:40am. The game will be aired live on CBS.
This is the 46th time that Navy has met Air Force on the gridiron and this game is the first leg in the battle for the Commander In Chief’s trophy which has become a permanent fixture in Annapolis. Navy has won the trophy 8 of the last 10 years.
Navy quarterback, Keenan Reynolds is expected to start today after coming off a head injury sustained in the last 4 minutes of the Western Kentucky game last week. That game dealt Navy their first loss of the season.
At halftime, the 1963 Cotton Bowl team will be recognized on the 50th anniversary of the greatest team to play at Navy. That team finished 9-2 and was ranked No. 2 in the country. The Mids owned victories over West Virginia, William & Mary, Michigan, VMI, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Maryland, Duke and Army. The Army game was played a week later than it was supposed to after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Mids lost in the Cotton Bowl to No. 1 Texas, 28-6.
Roger Staubach, in attendance today, won the Heisman Trophy that year, the second and last Navy player to win college football’s highest honor (Joe Bellino won it in 1960). Staubach ran for 418 yards and eight touchdowns, while throwing for 1,474 yards and seven touchdowns in that magical season.
Also at halftime, the coach of the 1963 team, Wayne Hardin, will be recognized for being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Hardin is the 24th person affiliated with the Naval Academy to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the third head coach, joining Gil Dobie (17-3 at Navy from 1917-19) and George Welsh (55-46-1 at Navy from 1973-81). Hardin will officially be inducted at the 56th National Football Foundation’s Annual Awards Dinner on December 10th, 2013, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and officially enshrined in the summer of 2014 at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Ga. Hardin compiled a record of 38-22- 2 as Navy’s head coach from 1959-64, including a 5-1 mark against Army and a 3-3 record against Notre Dame.
He coached two Heisman Trophy winners in Joe Bellino (1960) and Roger Staubach (1963) and led Navy to two New Year’s Day bowl games. The 1960 team compiled a record of 9-2 and was ranked No. 4 in the country under the direction of Hardin and earned victories over Boston College, Washington, SMU, Air Force, Notre Dame, Virginia and Army before losing to Missouri, 21-14, in the Orange Bowl. In 1963, the Midshipmen rose to No. 2 in the national rankings with a 9-2 record before losing to No. 1 Texas, 28-6, in the Cotton Bowl.