The Washington Times - December 9, 2011, 01:00AM

This is the penultimate picks entry of the football season (look for another shortly before Christmas for the ACC’s eight bowl games), but one of significance in any year.

That’s because it’s Army-Navy, which will be played Saturday at FedEx Field …


* Army vs. Navy (2:30, CBS): Midshipmen 28-10. This wasn’t the season either of the service academies wanted. Navy’s eight-year bowl streak is over. Army stepped back from its first postseason appearance since 1996 and enters the finale 3-8.

Still, this can be a defining and enduring moment for both teams. If Army snaps its nine-game skid to the Mids, there will be a sign the Black Knights have narrowed the gap between the programs. For Navy, it’s a chance to fulfill at least one of the program’s annual goals and get a head start on next year.

Navy’s won the last two meetings by 14 points apiece after a run of mostly blowouts the previous seven years. And while the Mids have regressed in the win column, their on-field work isn’t dramatically worse than usual. Meanwhile, Army is younger than a year ago and hasn’t found itself in as many games as Navy.

The Black Knights’ offense has also sputtered, scoring 40 points in their final three games. The return of Trent Steelman, who missed much of that stretch, will help. But look for Navy to wind up winning by a similar margin as the last couple seasons to extend its dominance over Army to a full decade.

ACC title game: 0-1

ACC record: 72-25 (33-15 conference regular season)
Navy record: 6-5
Total: 78-30

Preseason ACC record: 65-31 (28-20 conference)

—- Patrick Stevens