#23 Navy Midshipmen (7-1, 5-1) vs #16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-2)
Start Time: 2:30pm EST
Location: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Indiana
Line: Notre Dame -7.5
FPI: Notre Dame 17.7
Series: Notre Dame leads 76-13.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Ahhh, here we go, folks. It’s that time of year again. Navy-Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish set up shop at home this weekend as they welcome in the Navy Midshipmen for another edition of this storied rivalry. Though it does not quite have the allure of Army-Navy, this showdown has dated back to 1927 and certainly has its own share of prominence.
Notre Dame was in the College Football Playoffs picture for the first half of the season but saw their hopes take a tumble after a 45-14 loss to then ranked #19 Michigan on October 26th. The Irish went on to scrape by Virginia Tech 21-20 and then followed that up with a blowout win against Duke 38-7. All this has Notre Dame sitting at #16 in the CFP standings with a 7-2 record.
This will be the first time since 1978 that these two schools have played each other while being nationally ranked. Notre Dame has played 3 opponents who were ranked at that time, (#3 Georgia, #18 Virginia and #19 Michigan) and are 1-2. At the helm of the offense is Senior Ian Book who has had a terrific season thus far.
The 6’0 QB from El Dorado Hills, California has amassed for 2,009 yards, 21 TD’s, 6 Int’s and a stellar 138.5 Passer Rating. Book, however, has struggled with ball security as he has thrown 4 interceptions in the last 2 games after throwing only 2 in the previous 7 games. His accuracy and decision making will need to be sharp to help march Notre Dame down the field and into scoring positions.
The team statistical rankings have not been at a high-level as in years past. The Fighting Irish average 246.9 passing yards a game which is 51st in the nation and their rushing attack is equally as uninspiring as they rank 50th in the nation with 174.7 rushing yards per game. Notre Dame is, in addition, a disappointing 164th in the nation in points scored, after averaging 34.2 points per game.
After losing a disappointing game in Memphis in Week 3, Navy has exploded for 5 straight wins which has their confidence sky-high as they enter into the ring for another bout with their rivals from South Bend. The Midshipmen have often been on the short end of the stick against Notre Dame, as they have only won 13 times in their 89 meetings. Navy had a tremendous win in 2016 but has dropped the past two matchups.
With SMU, Houston and Army on deck in the coming weeks, this weekend is the beginning of a tough stretch of football for Navy, who are vying for their 2nd AAC West Division Title and a chance to be in the 2019 AAC Championship Game.
After missing a Bowl game last year for the first time since 2011, Navy has bounced back in a big way as their 7-1 record and #23 CPF ranking indicates. The Midshipmen have had a week of rest since their 56-10 drubbing of lowly UConn, so rust may be a factor early on. Nevertheless, these are the games the players and fans live for so it is expected for Navy to be raring to go and try to break a 2-game winless streak in this series.
Navy QB Malcolm Perry has been off the charts this Season. After spending the past few Seasons being shuffled at the position with Zach Abey among others, the Clarksville, Tennessee native has finally found his groove. The national media is beginning to take notice as well as Perry was named a Semi-Finalist for the 2019 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award yesterday.
While he has had some flashes of brilliance in the air, the ground game is where Perry shines as evident by his 1,042 rushing yards and 16 TD’s. He is also averaging an impressive 6 yards per carry. Navy will continue to rely on their QB to keep delivering those chunks of yardage.
Navy ranks 128th in passing yards with 98.9 yards a game, but that is not their identity. As expected, their triple-option garners them the nation’s #1 rushing game with 357.9 yards a game. They are also in the Top 15 of the nation in scoring at 40.1 point per game.
On a statistical spectrum, Navy seems to have a surprisingly slight edge over the Fighting Irish. One glaring advantage is the points scored, with Navy’s 40.1 mark compared to Notre Dame’s 34.2 mark. However, both teams allow under 20 points a game so something will have to give. Naturally, Navy is better with their rushing game and Notre Dame is better with their passing game. It will be interesting to see which aspect, passing or rushing, will crumble first or even better, have it be a shootout between the two styles.
A prominent game such as this one can have a habit of producing the unexpected, so you can, for the most part, throw statistics and analytics out the window. This has been a tremendous comeback year for Navy and I believe it will only get better. Notre Dame and Navy will trade punches for much of the game until the Midshipmen deliver the knockout blow late in the 4th. The boat school by four.
Navy 41 Notre Dame 37