Presto’s Picks: Navy continues historic rivalry with Army, while the playoff committee continues a different tradition

There are times I think that college football exists solely to drive those who follow and cover the sport crazy.

This past Sunday was one of those days as the College Football Playoff committee (all 13 of them) pushed Alabama ahead of Florida State for the final spot. This is the same Crimson Tide team that barely beat an Auburn team that got smoked by New Mexico State. Ahead of a Seminoles team that won at LSU and Florida this year, in addition to running its conference table.

History might not always repeat, but it often rhymes, and in 1979, an unbeaten Florida State was passed over for a one-loss Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl against eventual National Champion Alabama.

There have been rumblings for years that Florida State has been eyeing the SEC for years, and Sunday’s results justify the school’s feelings that their program could be better served with a change of conference. Of course, the very system that felt a 13-0 Florida State wasn’t good enough to participate in the playoff felt that a 13-0 Liberty with a soft strength of schedule was more worthy of a New Year’s Day bowl than a 10-2 SMU with a stronger performance against a much tougher slate.

The 12-team field can’t get here soon enough, and here are the matchups were missing this year:

  • No. 1 Michigan vs No. 8 Oregon — No. 9 Missouri winner
  • No. 4 Alabama vs No. 5 Florida State — No. 12 Liberty (although I’d have FSU fourth and SMU at No. 12) winner
  • No. 3 Texas vs No. 6 Georgia — No. 11 Penn State winner
  • No. 2 Washington vs No. 7 Ohio State — No. 10 Missouri winner

Meanwhile, apologies to SMU, Miami (Ohio), Boise State and Appalachian State who, despite winning their respective conferences, have no place whatsoever in a national playoff.

Saturday’s Game:

Navy (5-6) vs Army (5-6), 3 p.m. (Foxborough, Massachusetts), CBS

How is the winner of this game not bowl-bound?

The minimum bar set by the NCAA to play in a bowl is six wins, and in a world without ties, one of these two schools will reach the necessary half-dozen.

Yet another thing about college football to make one mad. What else is new?

The series breaks new ground, taking place in Massachusetts for the first time ever. For those unfamiliar, Foxborough being “just outside Boston” is kind of like Manassas being “just outside D.C.”

While the Mids own a 62-54-7 lead over their archrivals and had a 14-game winning streak earlier this century, Army has won five of the last seven meetings. Last year’s game was doubly painful as the Midshipmen fell in double-overtime thanks to a fumble near the goal line. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo was fired before he even boarded the bus heading home from Philadelphia.

This showdown is a typical Service Academy matchup, with both teams run-heavy (Army ranks 10th nationally while Navy’s 14th in rushing yards per game) and pass-light (Army’s 131st while Navy’s 132nd — it’s Air Force who’s dead-last in FBS).

The Black Knights are led by dual threat quarterback Bryson Daily, whose ran and passed for over 800 yards this fall.

Meanwhile, the Mids have played four quarterbacks significantly this season, with none being able to keep the top job for good.

Get ready to see Riley Riethman lining up back there early and often (49 of his 75 punts happening over the last six games). These games have also come down to the wire quite a bit lately, with seven of the last nine meetings being one-possession affairs. This fall, Army has had six such games (they’re 3-3), and Navy just a pair (1-1).

Presto’s Pick: Mids come up short, 16-13.

Last Week: 8-3.

Season: 84-36.

Presented by FanDuel Sportsbook.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up