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Army catches break with first AAC schedule

No Army football fan will be able to complain that the folks who run the American Athletic Conference are throwing the Black Knights into the fire in their first season in the league next fall. 

In fact, it seems that the schedule-makers went out of their way to accommodate the Black Knights with a schedule that – on paper – seems to be about as easy as possible for Army as the team embarks on joining a league for football for the second time in its 134-year history of playing football. The 2024 league football schedule was announced on Wednesday. 

The Black Knights will play just one team in the league that finished with a winning overall and league record (UTSA at home) during the 2023 regular season. That means the Black Knights are escaping regular-season clashes with Tulane (11-2 in 2023) and Memphis (9-3), as well as South Florida, which finished the league campaign with a 4-4 record and an overall 6-6 mark. SMU, the conference champion with an overall 11-2 record, is leaving the league for the Atlantic Coast Conference next year. 

Besides UTSA, which Army beat this season but still finished with an 8-4 record, the combined record of the other three home game opponents (UAB, Rice and East Carolina) was 12-24 this past season, with only Rice managing to post a .500 record in the conference and overall. 

The league also seems to be giving Army a break on its away games. All four opponents, North Texas, Florida Atlantic, Tulsa and Temple, had losing records, with Tulsa and Temple finishing at or near the bottom of league standings. 

Of course, Army will host rival Air Force on the first Saturday of November at a still-to-be-determined location and Navy in December at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. As previously announced, though Army and Navy will be competing in the same conference, their annual game will not count against league standings. 

The two top teams in the AAC at the end of the regular season will face off in the league championship game, held a week before the Army-Navy game. 

Though the two other non-league games have not yet been announced, information out of Lehigh University have the Mountain Hawks visiting Michie Stadium on Aug. 31 to open the season. Lehigh is an FCS team from the Patriot League. 

Black Knight Nation reported several years ago that Army will face Notre Dame next November at Yankee Stadium to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the famous “Four Horsemen” game between the Black Knights and Fighting Irish in 1924. Notre Dame won that game between national powerhouses, 13-7 and famous sportswriter Grantland Rice penned a passage, considered to be among the most famous in sports journalism, about the exploits of the Notre Dame offensive backfield in that game. 

Sources say the 2024 game is still on and will be played in late November. Army has lost 15 straight games to Notre Dame, since knocking off the host Irish 14-2 in 1958 when the Black Knights finished 8-0-1 and ranked third in the nation. 

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