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“How are you going to hit a home run if you’re thinking about striking out?” he said. “I haven’t really thought about that at all.”

The Cadets have. They are just as programmed to know the importance of beating their chief rival.

Army (6-5) will play in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30, but the Cadets are only thinking about ending that awful losing streak against Navy.

“That is absolutely part and parcel to our culture,” Army coach Rich Ellerson said. “Our value system revolves around this game to some degree. Clearly, this is something that’s been missing in their time here, something that they can’t wait for another opportunity to right the balance sheet, if you will.”

John Mumford, who coaches Army’s defensive ends and has been at West Point for 11 years, said of the senior class: “I think in their eyes it’s a part of their own validation that they have left their mark on the program and left it better than when they got here.”

Niumatalolo realizes Navy’s winning streak against Army won’t mean a thing Saturday.

“Those games have no bearing on this one. We’re just looking at this game,” he said. “The history is done with.”

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AP Sports Writer John Kekis in New York contributed to this report.