The Notre Dame Fighting Irish return home this week to face a familiar foe. They host the Navy Midshipmen Saturday afternoon, another Armed Forces Academy.
Notre Dame is sitting at 6-2 and fresh off a big win over Air Force. Navy is 4-3 and ended a two game losing streak with a narrow win over Pitt.
For the Irish, it will also be the second week in a row that they will face an option offense. Navy is just slightly better at running the ball than Air Force and utilize the vaunted triple option offense. Air Force was just a warm up test for the Irish who might actually be better prepared on defense after last week.
This will be the 86th meeting between the two teams. Notre Dame holds the edge by a wide margin with a 73-12-1 record against the Midshipmen.
Here’s what to watch for tomorrow:
- Momentum. Tommy Rees is coming off a career week. Against Air Force, Rees tossed five touchdowns. He has been consistently raising his level of play as the season has progressed. The Irish have asked him to do more, and lately, he’s delivered. The Navy pass defense is overrated as they’ve played a number of teams that rely heavily on the run (like Toledo and Air Force). The Midshipmen secondary has allowed opposing QBs to complete nearly 70-percent of their passes. With Rees coming off a big game, expect that trend to continue Saturday.
- Good Rees has been around for awhile now, and if he continues to play turnover free football, the Irish can run away with this game.
- 3-3. That’s the Irish record against Navy since 2007. In the three losses, the Irish turned the ball over six times, missed three field goals, and turned the ball over on downs six times. In short, they didn’t play very well. Last season, the Navy game opened up the season and the Irish won 50-10. They only gave up 149 yards rushing, but that was a completely different Notre Dame team. Expect the Irish to give up 200+ yards rushing to the Midshipmen, but move the ball with relative ease.
- Run Defense. The Irish have the 42nd ranked run defense in the country and allow 144 yards per game. That’s good, because Navy bring the 10th best rushing offense to South Bend. The Midshipmen have nearly a 3:1 ratio of run to pass, but like to use play action when it’s least expected. Even with that said, the Irish will want to crowd the box and just keep a lone safety deep to prevent any deep passing attempts. Discipline is the most important thing when playing Navy. If the linebackers can maintain gap control, and force long third downs its a huge advantage for the defense.
This could very easily be a rough game for the Irish. Notre Dame is a much more talented team and should run away with this game.
The Irish pull away late in a tougher than it should be outing, 35-21.
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