ANNAPOLIS --- Navy hasn't lost to either of its fellow major-college service academies since 2002.
The Midshipmen don't want to find out what it's like this weekend when they visit Air Force, either.
Four straight graduating classes have come through Navy without a defeat against the Falcons or Army. Navy has taken seven straight from Air Force, and eight straight against Army.
Toss in a streak of not yielding a defensive touchdown to either academy in 12 quarters (plus an overtime period), and there's plenty on the Mids' minds entering Saturday.
"They got it here before I was here," safety Wyatt Middleton said of his predecessors' ability to win and retain the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy. "I don't want to be the class that loses it or gives it. Air Force or any of the other academies haven't scored a touchdown on us for the past, what, 12 quarters? I'm trying to keep that going."
It won't be easy.
Air Force is 3-1, with a rout of Brigham Young and a near-upset of Oklahoma on the road to its name.
Navy, meanwhile, is 2-1. After a loss to Maryland and a sluggish defeat of Georgia Southern, the Mids defeated Louisiana Tech after stumbling at times in the first half.
Such problems will be treated harshly in Colorado Springs, where Navy has won its last three trips by a combined 16 points. Last year's game in Annapolis was decided by Joe Buckley's field goal in overtime.
Such a history of tight games has Navy on alert, particularly seniors who have a better idea than most just what the Mids will find themselves in after flying west Thursday night in preparation for an afternoon game at altitude.
"Just making sure everybody understands, because a lot of people who haven't played in that ballgame don't really understand the magnitude of the game," quarterback Ricky Dobbs said. "Emotions are going to be high on both sides of the ball because so much is on the line. As a service academy, the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy is something that you want. And being here, something you want to keep."
But there's a flip side to such thinking.
"At the same time, it's them understanding not to put themselves under too much pressure," Dobbs said. "You can put yourself into think it's too big of a game and then you go in and can't even remember your name. That's happened before. Coaches tell us that and I was a freshman and have seen it before."
Then there's the underrated aspect of any academy game: A boisterous crowd. While academies are almost universally respected, it's often a surprise in several sports (football included) to learn how intense fans (and, especially, students) can be.
"I like going to other people's stadiums and playing there, as long as you get the win," Middleton said. "It is different. The altitude is a challenge you have to overcome. Being in shape helps out a lot. It's a great atmosphere. It's just like here. When you play another academy, it's always good to be the home team."
Middleton believes this is the best Air Force team he's faced in his career, and that places a great onus on Navy if it wants to maintain its 15-game streak against the academies --- easily the longest in school history.
It also makes a harrowing test for the Mids to get halfway to holding onto a cherished trophy and earning another visit to the White House.
"You can look at it like that, or you can just say you don't want to lose it," Dobbs said. "No one wants to be the team to lose the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. There's a lot on the line."