ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The American Athletic Conference announced Navy’s 2021 football schedule Feb. 18, a slate that features six games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in what will arguably be the toughest and most exciting schedule in school history.
Navy will play eight teams that qualified for a bowl game last year, including two opponents that finished the 2020 season ranked in the top 10. Four of Navy’s first-five games will be at home.
“Today our staff is full speed ahead in our planning to host our alumni, friends and fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this fall,” said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. “Every home game in 2021 is a big-time matchup and our opponents project to not only be highly competitive, but are all of national stature. A family atmosphere, fly-overs, march-ons, tailgating and great Navy football will bring us together again to enjoy one of the most special environments in all of college sports.”
Navy will kick off the 2021 season with back-to-back home games against Marshall on Sept. 4 and Air Force on Sept. 11.
The game against Marshall will be the first contest on the gridiron between the two schools as well as the first game for Thundering Herd head coach Charles Huff who came to Marshall from defending National Champion Alabama.
Last year, Marshall finished 7-3 and was ranked as high as #15 in the country. The Thundering Herd played in the Conference USA Championship Game against UAB and in the Camellia Bowl.
The Air Force game was moved from Oct. 2 to Sept. 11 in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is the first leg in the battle for the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy. Air Force’s last two trips to Annapolis have resulted in thrilling come-from-behind wins by the Mids (34-25 in 2019 and 48-45 in 2017).
After an open week, the Mids will travel to New Mexico Bowl participant Houston on Sept. 25 for the first American Athletic Conference game of the year. Navy won at Houston in 2019, 56-41.
The Mids will return home for back-to-back conference games on Oct. 2 against UCF and Oct. 9 vs. SMU.
First-year UCF head coach Gus Malzahn will make his first visit to Annapolis with one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Dillon Gabriel. UCF finished 6-4 last year and played BYU in the Boca Raton Bowl. UCF is the only AAC school (only played twice) Navy has not beaten since joining the league in 2015.
SMU finished 7-3 a year ago and was scheduled to play in the Frisco Bowl before that game was canceled. Navy beat SMU 35-28 in the Mustangs last trip to Annapolis in 2019.
Navy will have a short turnaround before heading to Memphis for a Thursday night showdown at the Liberty Bowl on Oct. 14. The Tigers finished 8-3 last year, defeating Florida Atlantic in the Montgomery Bowl. Navy’s last trip to the Liberty Bowl was a memorable one as the Mids knocked off Kansas State 20-17 in the 2019 Liberty Bowl Classic.
The Mids return home on Saturday, Oct. 23 to take on defending American Athletic Conference champion Cincinnati. The Bearcats finished the 2020 season with a 9-1 record and ranked #8 in the country. Cincinnati’s only loss was a 24-21 heartbreaker to Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Navy will face another short week against a tough opponent the following week as the Mids travel to Tulsa for a Friday night affair on Oct. 29.
Tulsa is coming off a 6-3 season that saw the Golden Hurricane make it to the American Athletic Conference Championship Game where they lost to Cincinnati 27-24 on a last-second field goal. The Golden Hurricane played Mississippi State in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Things don’t get any easier the following week as Navy will travel to South Bend, Ind. to take on Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 6. Notre Dame finished the 2020 season 10-2 and ranked #5 in the country. The Fighting Irish made the college football playoff, where they lost to Alabama in the semifinal.
The Mids will get a well-earned bye week the following Saturday before returning home to take on East Carolina on Senior Day on Nov. 20. The Pirates finished the 2020 season strong, beating Temple 28-3 and then upsetting SMU 52-38.
Even though this year’s Army-Navy Game is not in Philadelphia, Navy will still get an opportunity to play at Lincoln Financial Field as the Mids will play at Temple on Saturday, Nov. 27.
The American Athletic Conference Championship game is set for Saturday, Dec. 4 at the home of the regular season champion.
Navy will cap off the regular season on Saturday, Dec. 11 with the annual Army-Navy Game presented by USAA at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Army-Navy game will also honor and remember the 20th anniversary of 9/11 as MetLife Stadium sits just 12 miles from the site of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
|Sept. 4||Marshall||Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium|
|Sept. 11||Air Force||Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium|
|Sept. 25||at Houston||Houston, Texas|
|Oct. 2||UCF||Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium|
|Oct. 9||SMU||Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium|
|Oct. 14||at Memphis||Memphis, Tenn.|
|Oct. 23||Cincinnati||Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium|
|Oct. 29||at Tulsa||Tulsa, Okla.|
|Nov. 6||at Notre Dame||South Bend, Ind.|
|Nov. 20||East Carolina||Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium|
|Nov. 27||at Temple||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|Dec. 4||AAC Championship Game||TBA|
|Dec. 11||vs. Army||East Rutherford, N.J.|
— Navy Athletics press release