Preview: Notre Dame vs. Navy (at Baltimore)
November 10, 2008
Last year, Navy ended a 43-game losing streak to Notre Dame with a 46-44 triple-overtime win in South Bend. Twice, the Midshipmen stopped the Fighting Irish from converting the tying two-point conversion. The Navy defense stuffed the run after a questionable pass interference penalty gave Notre Dame a second chance.
The 43-game streak is an NCAA record for consecutive wins against the same opponent.
The Midshipmen will try to start a streak of their own this Saturday. Only three times in the history of the series has Navy managed to win two-in-a-row over the Fighting irish (1960-1961, 1956-1957 and 1933-1934). Overall, Notre Dame has a 70-10-1 advantage.
The Irish are coming off a 17-0 shutout loss at Boston College. Of its' five wins this season, only Stanford (5-5) currently has a non-losing record.
Notre Dame needs one more win to become bowl eligible. If it doesn't happen this week, it should happen next week when it hosts Syracuse.
Navy enters the contest at 6-4. The Middies have only played three teams with winning records and defeated two of them (Wake Forest and Air Force).
These teams are polar opposites on offense but have arrived at almost identical total yardage with Notre Dame outgaining Navy by one yard - 3,375 to 3,374. The Irish have thrown for 2,335 and ran for 1,040. The Midshipmen have rushed for 2,772 and passed for 602.
The Middies are averaging 308 yards rushing, second-best in the nation behind Nevada. They led the nation in that department every year from 2005-2007 and finished 3rd in 2004. Conversely, Navy has finished no better than 117th in the passing department during that same time span. But those stats were compiled under the tutelage of Paul Johnson who is now the head coach of Georgia Tech after compiling a 45-29 record in six seasons at Annapolis.
Johnson successor, Ken Niumatalolo, has picked up where Johnson left off. And why wouldn't he? He served as Johnson's assistant head coach and played a large role in the installation of the triple-option offense.
Notre Dame's rushing defense has improved, but still only ranks 53rd versus 96th a year ago.
Last season, Navy gave up 36.4 points a game. It has cut that to 25.6 points per game this season, while scoring 29.2.
Notre Dame has outscored its' opponents an average of 24.3 to 20.4.