The Service Academies' Football Season Opening Performances, Ranked

(U.S. Air Force/Jim Varhegyi)

Football is back, and the academies for the Army, Navy and Air Force have all played their first games of the season. While none of the academies is likely to compete for the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy (but who knows, it's a long season), they are playing for something just as big: a trip to the White House to receive the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy.

The coveted trophy is awarded annually and goes to the service academy with the best record over the other two academies. In the event of a tie, the teams will share the award, but the previous year's winner keeps it. The trophy was shared between the three at the end of the 2021 season, as each team went 1-1, but since Army took it home in 2020, it remains at West Point.

Air Force currently holds the record for the most wins at 20, and if week one is any indicator, the Falcons are ready to bring it back to Colorado Springs. Let's take a look at how the teams made out on Saturday.

3. Navy falls to Delaware, 14-7

The Midshipmen had a disappointing 2021 season, ending with a 4-8 record. Navy started last season with a trio of losses (including a loss to the Air Force Falcons). The new season isn't looking too great for the Mids, either. The Delaware Blue Hens, a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team, toppled Navy with two touchdown passes.

Passing was the story of the game on Sept. 3, as the Midshipmen held the Blue Hens to under 300 yards of offense. Despite outgaining Delaware at home in Annapolis, Navy just couldn't find the end zone. Navy also fumbled the ball three times in the first 18 minutes of the game, with the first coming on the opening drive.

Navy fans can take heart in the fact that despite the Mids' lackluster first weeks of the 2021 season and disappointing record, they still closed 2021 with a win over Army.

2. Coastal Carolina tops Army, 38-28

More disappointment for academy football as Army loses a close one while on the road in South Carolina. The game was evenly matched for the first half, but the Chanticleers began pulling away in the third quarter. The Coastal Carolina effort was boosted by an interception later in the same quarter.

The Black Knights kept the game close on the ground and in the air with some pretty electric play-calling. Army quarterback Cade Ballard hit running back Braheam Murphy with a 73-yard pass. Army's Tyhier Tyler found running back ​​Ay'Jaun Marshall for 54 yards on a play-action pass. Running back Tyrell Robinson gave the Black Knights an early lead on a 70-yard touchdown on the ground.

1. Air Force dominates Northern Iowa, 48-17

It was tempting to give Army the No. 1 spot, despite its loss, because of its running backs' stellar play, but Air Force was so dominant in its season opener that it's hard to compare. Falcons quarterback Haaziq Daniels' first pass of the game was an 80-yard touchdown, which got the ball rolling against the Panthers.

Daniels, a senior at the Air Force Academy, was a real standout in the game, passing for 109 yards and rushing for 107 yards; one of Daniels' runs ended in a touchdown. The Falcons ended the game with 691 total yards, with four running backs scoring on the ground.

Though Air Force held Northern Iowa to just 17 points, the Panthers did rack up 405 total yards against the Falcons, almost half of which came on the ground. Air Force has won 16 straight season openers and is undefeated against FCS teams.

Air Force plays Navy on Oct. 1, Army on Nov. 5. and the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy series wraps up on Dec. 10 with the 2022 Army-Navy Game at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.

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

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