Two years ago Notre Dame's 44 game win streak against Navy was broken in Notre Dame Stadium as the Midshipmen pulled the upset of the Irish in triple overtime by way of the triple option. This Saturday should not have the same end result and I don't anticipate that it will come down to the final moments like we have seen in so many games with this Irish team in recent memory.
The 19th ranked Irish welcome Michael Floyd back to the fold as he will play for the first time since September 19th when he broke his collar bone against Michigan State.
The offense for the Fighting Irish should roll once again, I am curious to see how Jimmy Clausen targets Golden Tate now in comparison to how he did previous to Floyd being injured. Tate has emerged as one of the most dangerous threats in college football, having Floyd will allow Golden and Kyle Rudolph to each lose some of the extra pressure they have had to deal with recently.
Navy is not a slouch coming to South Bend but they are far from a powerhouse, either. They took Ohio State to the max earlier this season before falling late in the Horseshoe but this is the same team that lost to Temple a week ago. The Midshipmen have to win at least one more game before reaching bowl eligibility with a 6-3 overall record due to playing a 13 game schedule this year. They are yet to have a week off this season and had won five straight previous to the Temple loss last week.
Vince Murray leads Navy with 638 yards on the season while quarterback Ricky Dobbs leads the team with 16 rushing touchdowns. Navy is obviously a run first team, they rank 3rd in the nation as they put up just under 280 rushing yards a game.
Don't expect near those numbers this week for Navy, I don't anticipate the bigger line of Notre Dame compared to most of Navy's opponents to have much of a problem slowing the Navy offense. If Navy wants to stick around with the Irish they will have to use playaction passes well again, much like they did against Ohio State this season and against Notre Dame a year ago.
The Irish have weapons to throw to as we all know and with Michael Floyd back, Charlie Weis will want to use his toy he hasn't had in a month and a half. Notre Dame has a chance to make this game a blowout early by running the football due to the size difference in the teams lines. Notre Dame is averaging over forty pounds more per player on the line, Navy will have no choice but to stack the line if they hope to slow down Armando Allen who returns again this week.
Once Navy stacks the line it will be open season on the secondary of the Naval Academy. The Midshipmen have allowed only 178 yards a game through the air, I fully expect that number to increase with the respect Navy will have to give the Notre Dame running game.
This game shouldn't be close, it should be a game where Notre Dame fans can breathe easier late in the game compared to what has happened most of the season.
Expect Manti T'eo to have another strong showing as this is the kind of offense he can feast on with his style of play. Also expect Ethan Johnson and Ian Williams to step up and have one of their stronger outings on the year.
On offense, I would be shocked if the Irish don't try to welcome Michael Floyd back with a touchdown reception.
Nick (7-1): Notre Dame 41 Navy 16
Mark (7-1): Notre Dame 34 Navy 20
Enjoy a clip from 2007 that shows the true uniqueness of this college football "rivalry":