What used to be an annual cakewalk has turned into quite a rivalry over the last few years. Notre Dame beat Navy 43 straight seasons before the Midshipmen finally broke the streak in 2007. After falling in a close game in 2008, Navy has captured the last two wins including a totally dominating victory last year. This year the Mids don’t come in quite as strong as they have been recently, but that’s certainly not enough of a reason to quell Irish fans fears of another terrible loss.
NOTRE DAME PREVIEW
Until last week, the Irish were high riding a four game winning streak and getting back into some sort of national respectability. All that was wiped away, however, following a 31-17 loss to USC that probably wasn’t even that close. Three fourth quarter turnovers did in the Irish and ended any hope they had of winning the game. Can they rebound now and take advantage of a team in which they should have no problem moving the ball?
The offense should be able to move at will on Saturday and score a bunch of points. Navy gives up over 30 points a game and the Irish are definitely capable of putting up much more than that. It’s obviously going to start with the offensive line for Notre Dame. They were dominant in the win over Air Force a few weeks ago and should be able to experience similar success against the Midshipmen. Cierre Wood took a step back last week, but must be counted on to come back strong this week. If he can’t Jonas Gray has proven more than capable of shouldering the load.
The passing game must come back strong too. Michael Floyd was a virtual non-factor against USC and Tommy Rees threw the ball 37 times for only 190 yards with an interception. Navy’s defense is vulnerable and this offense has an opportunity to put up some big numbers and run away with the contest.
The challenge as always is going to be the defense. This isn’t quite as an explosive Naval squad as they’ve been the past few years, but they still rank third in the country averaging over 325 yards rushing a game. Everyone remembers how they destroyed the Irish defense last season. Since then, Notre Dame has acquitted themselves well in wins over Army and Air Force who run a similar type of offense. No doubt Navy will get some yards, but can they score enough points?
This Navy team seems a typical service academy squad. Great rushing, but poor passing. In fact, Navy ranks 117th in the country in passing yards a game with only 109.4 yards on average. Even worse news for them is the loss of starting quarterback Kriss Proctor who leads the team in passing and rushing this season. He will not play against Notre Dame meaning sophomore Trey Miller will get the call. Miller played last week against East Carolina and completed 5-12 for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran it 13 times for 36 yards. He’s a typical Navy quarterback who will get some yards, but he doesn’t quite have the same effectiveness as Proctor yet.
After Miller, the biggest weapon will be fullback Alexader Teich who is second on the team with 518 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He killed the Irish last season racking up 210 yards on the ground. Priority number one for the Irish on Saturday will be to stop Teich. If Teich does not carry it, the Mids still have multiple weapons at running back with Gee Gee Greene, John Howell and Delvin Diggs. Greene averages 8.5 yards a carry, Howell 11.6 and Diggs 5.0. All can break out at anytime.
If Navy does pass look for Brandon Turner and Matt Aiken to be the main targets. Greene may grab a pass or two as well, although no Navy receiver has more than nine catches this season.
Defensively, the Mids will give up some points. After containing Delaware and Western Kentucky to 17 and 14 points respectively to open the season, Navy has given up 24, 35, 63, 21 and 38, all in losses. They’re giving up nearly 200 yards rushing a game and over 225 yards passing and Notre Dame probably has the most talent on offense of any team they’ve faced so far with maybe South Carolina as the exception. Matt Warrick leads the defense with 62 tackles, three pass break ups, and a fumble recovery.
I guaranteed before the season that Notre Dame would win this game. Now, I am more convinced than ever they will win. Navy is not nearly as good as they have been and Notre Dame is much better, despite their 4-3 record. The Irish are going to score a lot on Saturday and Navy will not be able to keep up with them. Try as they might, and as weird as this sounds, Notre Dame will snap Navy’s series winning streak and return this rivalry back to its place.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame – 49, Navy – 20