The Army-Navy Game Is College Football's Number One Rivalry

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U.S. Military Academy, Jack Sides, Celebrates during the 119th Army-Navy Game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 8, 2018. The Army defeated the Navy for their third year in a row. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. James Harvey)

Whether it's time for the NCAA football season to start, the season is ongoing or if it just ended, college football fans never forget their favorite teams -- or the teams they love to hate.

For alums and die-hards alike, rivalry week can be bigger and have more meaning than conference championships and can be a sweet consolation prize to a lost national championship.

Fan bases for teams like the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate their rivalry with what was once known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." The Minnesota Golden Gophers and Wisconsin Badgers compete for a real trophy, Paul Bunyan's Axe, which features an engraving of every game's score on its handle.

Topping all of the country's historic football rivalries, however, is the Army-Navy Game, which not only features a milieu of generational excitement, and a slew of game-related events in the days prior, it might also include the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and a visit to the White House for a meeting with the leader of the free world.

The Commander-in-Chief's Trophy is presented to the team with the best record between the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. (DoD News photo by EJ Hersom)

Rounding out all of that is a pregame flyover that costs more than most countries' entire defense budgets and could probably defeat ISIS by itself. No offense to Notre Dame or USC, but it's just difficult for the ​​Jeweled Shillelagh, the prize for winning their rivalry game, to compete with that.

A 2022 survey from TickPick, a no-fee ticket site for games and other live events, found the Army-Navy Game to be the most iconic rivalry in college football. The most recent meeting between the two saw Navy upset Army 17-13.

The first Army-Navy Game was held in 1890, and in the 122 meetings between the two teams, the Midshipmen hold 62 wins and the Black Knights 53. Seven games ended in a tie between the two academies.

Coming in second in the survey of more than a thousand die-hard college football fans was the Auburn-Alabama rivalry. The Auburn Tigers first met the Alabama Crimson Tide in 1893 in a game that saw Auburn win 32-22.

In third place was the rivalry between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines, who first began their annual game in 1897. The two have met a total of 117 times, unless we count the time the two states went to war over the city of Toledo.

The survey also revealed that fans of the Army-Navy Game appear to just love the one meetup every year, not the teams themselves. When asked whether they would continue being fans of the Navy Midshipmen or the Army Black Knights if the rivalry ended, most fans responded with "no."

Of the top 10 college football rivalries described by the survey, which included the Cal-Stanford, Michigan-Michigan State and Oklahoma-Texas rivalries, only the fans of the Army-Navy Game and the Auburn-Georgia game would give up following the teams if the rivalries were to dissolve.

(U.S. Army/Sgt. James Harvey)

For those interested in keeping the Army-Navy rivalry alive, the 123rd Army-Navy Game will be hosted in its usual place, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, on Dec. 10, 2022. For more information, visit the Army-Navy Game website.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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