The conference title games are over. The spirit spots are blooming. It's Army-Navy week, and if you're not up to speed on the final acts of the 2016 college football season, here's a half-dozen things to know as the rivalry resumes.
1. The story so far. Navy finished a busy 2016 season with a 34-10 loss to Temple in the American Athletic Conference championship game Saturday in Annapolis, dropping to 9-3 so far this season. The Mids also lost quarterback Will Worth and slotback (and team captain) Toneo Gulley to injury for the rest of the season, which didn't help a struggling offense and may give Army West Point fans a bit more hope in Baltimore.
The Black Knights have been off since a 60-3 win over Morgan State on Nov. 19.
2. The bowl reveal.
Entering last weekend, college football analysts had pegged Navy as a potential candidate for the Cotton Bowl, depending on the team's performance in the AAC title game and on Western Michigan's ability to cap an undefeated season by winning the Mid-American Conference championship. If Navy won and WMU stumbled, Sunday's big bowl announcement may have come with a few TBD slots, thanks to the Army-Navy's unique spot on the college football calendar.
Instead, Navy stumbled, WMU closed the deal, and Sunday's announcements went off as scheduled. Navy will face Louisiana Tech on Dec. 23 in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, while Army will head to the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 27 for a rematch with North Texas; the Mean Green downed the Black Knights 35-18 earlier this year at West Point.
Other bowls of note: Air Force will face Southern Alabama on Dec. 30 in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, and Temple will return to Annapolis on Dec. 27 to battle Wake Forest in the Military Bowl, presented by Northrop Grumman. That game will benefit the USOand offers complimentary tickets to service members.
3. The other reveal.
Head hereto check out the 82nd Airborne Division-inspired uniforms Army West Point will debut on Saturday. Look for a Navy announcement later this week, although teams have, in the past, kept their new gear secret until hours before kickoff.
4. Good seats still available ... but it'll cost you.
Army-Navy game officials announced a sellout on Nov. 18, meaning more than 71,000 fans are expected to pack Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium for Saturday's contest. Secondary ticket market websites do have a few hundred options for a last-minute purchase, but expect to pay more than $200 a seat just to get in the door.
5. Spirit spot salvo.
The rivalry-video submissions usually speed up in the middle of the week, but there's already some high-ranking officers making their on-screen presence felt. First, a Snickers commercial parody with a surprise superintendent finish:
Next, a joint-service special, featuring Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Also, a goat and a mule:
Army Secretary Eric Fanning, who is not one to shy away from viral web shenanigans, also posted a teaser videothat promises a full spirit spot on Thursday. Check back later this week at militarytimes.com/armynavyfor more spirit spot videos; as usual, foam hats are encouraged.
6. War on ice.
-- a friendlier showdown set for tonight at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., that will feature Army and Navy hockey teams doing battle after the Washington Capitals skate against the Buffalo Sabres. Milley, a former hockey player at Princeton, will lead Army and Air Force players against Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter -- USNA hockey player-turned-aviator with the call sign "Slapshot" -- and his team of sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.