How Military Service Teams Dominated College Football During World War II

With football pitches seen as testing grounds, the military fielded teams that faced the best college programs during WWII. The Fort Knox Armoraiders, Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks, and other service teams have played against players like Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State. Military teams have sometimes skyrocketed past perennial powers in the national rankings.

With its tactical formations, fierce turf battles, and the use of military terms such as “blitz” and “bomb”, football was believed to instill tenacity, leadership and teamwork. “Football! Navy! War! At no time in history have those words been more closely linked and interwoven than they are now,” said Commander Thomas J. Hamilton, training program chief. US Navy physics and pre-flight and former Naval Academy football coach.

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