The short answer is no, well probably not at least. But the long answer will change that no to a maybe. Now it is no secret that Navy’s schedule in the second half is quite the gauntlet. The Midshipmen have already faced off against Memphis, UCF, Temple while they still have matchups that include Notre Dame, Houston and Army not too far ahead in their sights. This rivalry has historically been very one-sided and at one point, the Fighting Irish had won 43 straight wins against Navy. Despite Notre Dame being early three possession favorites, I think this one will be a lot closer than most people think. Recently, Navy has typically played well against Notre Dame and was victorious in their matchup last season by a score of 28-27.
Notre Dame only has two blemishes on their record, both against very worthy opponents so if you’re asking why Notre Dame is ranked 8th with two losses… stop asking. This will be Navy’s toughest matchup yet and their only hope for a win will rely on two main aspects.
Control The Clock
The Midshipmen’s offense is explosive and it is fair to say that controlling the clock and the overall tempo of the game is not their strength but running the football definitely is. Navy runs the ball almost exclusively but they are not a team that will run it down the throat of a defense. Quarterback Zach Abey (above) and the Midshipmen’s option offense leads to huge plays and scores. If Navy wants to take anything away from Notre Dame’s two losses, it would be that in both losses the Fighting Irish did not win the time of possession battle.
Big Play Defense
Navy’s defense is more of the bend don’t break type and unlike the Miami Hurricanes do not have a knack for causing turnovers. Luckily for Navy, the Fighting Irish offense literally runs through running back Josh Adams (below) and the army of elite running backs behind him. On average, the Fighting Irish account for over 300 yards each game on the ground.
The thing about Notre Dame that is unlike any other team Navy has played so far this season is they have much more than just one or two ways to beat you. So the Midshipmen will not be able to simply stack the box and send the heat to contain Adams because quarterback Brandon Wimbush and wide receivers Chase Claypool and Equanimeous St. Brown can take the top off of a defense in a split second.
At the end of the day, the Midshipmen defense will need to make some big plays and mainly limit any offensive explosion from the Fighting Irish if they want to have a fighting chance. Their gameplan should start with their defense and then work to their offense, controlling the clock on offense will give their defense much needed rest. As much as I’d like for Navy to pull off the upset, I do not see the Fighting Irish losing two games in a row and given the track record of the Notre Dame and Navy rivalry, I don’t see Notre Dame dropping two games in the all-time series back to back. I see Notre Dame winning this one by a score of 34-22.
Cover Photo via Navy Live
Article Photos via Chicago Tribune and Capital Gazette