Schedule: October 26, 2013, 5:00pm EST
Where: United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs
Network: CBS Sports Network
As a combat veteran, for me one of the most gratifying parts of Notre Dame’s schedule is their annual games against the services academies. Of course they will never receive the hype of a Michigan or USC game, but the tradition of these institutions and the character of their cadets provide an example for student-athletes across college football. They sacrifice four years of their young adulthood to train for a life of service, discipline and dedication. By adding these institutions to their schedule, Notre Dame acknowledges their importance, not just to college football, but to the nation. In 2013’s installment, Notre Dame faces the Air Force Falcons at their scenic home in Colorado Springs.
The Falcons are led by former player and Academy alumnus, Troy Calhoun. After taking over in 2007 from legendary Falcons’ coach, Fisher DeBerry, Calhoun proceeded to have two 9 win seasons and four bowl appearances. However, the Falcons have regressed in the last two seasons posting a 7-6 record and 6-7 record in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
The 2012 season had it’s high points as the Falcons came within a late touchdown of beating Michigan and UNLV. Unfortunately, they finished the season with bad losses to Rice, Fresno State and San Diego State. They also lost to Army and Navy in the same season for the first time under Calhoun. The Falcons struggled mightily on pass defense which proved devastating in a Mountain West Conference that has embraced the pistol and spread offenses.
In 2013, Calhoun faces another exceptionally high turnover rate as he graduates ten starters. The service academies do not redshirt athletes and they are not afforded a fifth-year of eligibility so coaches have a limited time with their players. The team returns six starters on offense and six starters on defense, but Calhoun will need to replace his quarterback, running back and middle linebacker.