PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 6: Navy Midshipmen before the game against the Army at the Lincoln Financial Field Stadium on December 6, 2003 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Navy defeated the Army 34-6. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Football fans across the country converged on the city Friday night, packing out hotels and restaurants in anticipation of the historic rivalry.
This will be the 82nd time both sides have clashed in Philadelphia. The city was buzzing all day Friday from an early morning pep rally at the Art Museum to an evening kick-off party at Liberty Place.
“I think all the pageantry and nostalgia of the game as well as the tradition, it’s much different from college football games,” said Earl Cheng, Navy fan.
There are much more than bragging rights at stake.
Army wants a promotion. The Black Knights are tired of ending their season against Navy. Army wants to keep playing and get stationed in a bowl game.
“We get to play one more game and we get to do what we want to do, playing a game late in the season that has bowl implications,” Army coach Rich Ellerson said.
The Black Knights have long been out of the bowl mix or even been considered a threat to beat Navy (8-4). The Midshipmen have turned the passionate series into a lopsided affair - seven straight wins by a 274-71 margin. Navy is 53-49-7 overall against Army for its biggest lead in a series that began in 1890.
“These guys know that we've been beating them a couple of times and no senior class or team wants to be the one that ends it,” Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo said.
The Army-Navy weekend is expected to generate $35 million for the local economy, according to the Philadelphia Sports Congress.