For the 89th time, one of college football’s oldest rivalries will be on display on Saturday. No.15 Notre Dame takes on unranked Navy in South Bend as the Fighting Irish look to bounce back from their first loss of the season.
Notre Dame fell nine spots in the AP Top 25 Poll with their heartbreaking defeat to Clemson, putting themselves in a much tougher position to make the College Football Playoff. The Irish will be Navy’s biggest challenge by far in 2015. The Midshipmen are undefeated, and Notre Dame is the only ranked opponent on their schedule.
Las Vegas casinos have the Irish favored by 14 points, according to vegasinsider.com. Notre Dame has been the underdog two times this season, and Navy is one of just three teams with no losses against the spread.
Notre Dame has dominated the rivalry since the two teams began their annual matchup in 1927. The Fighting Irish have a 75-12-1 record against the Midshipmen, and they are currently on a four-game winning streak. Notre Dame’s longest stretch of dominance began in 1964 when the Irish won their first of 43 consecutive victories against Navy.
After years of not being competitive against Notre Dame, Navy finally got a two-point win over the Irish in 2007. That led to the Midshipmen beating Notre Dame in three out of four meetings, including an 18-point win Brian Kelly’s first season in South Bend. The Irish have now won four straight against their rivals, winning 49-38 in 2014.
Importance of Running Game
Navy has gone undefeated by running almost exclusively. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds threw a season-high 10 passes in the team’s most recent win, and he had just 17 combined attempts in Navy’s first three contests. Reynolds is the team’s leading rusher with 488 yards on 87 attempts. Only Baylor and Georgia Southern average more than Navy’s 339.8 rushing yards per game.
Notre Dame ranks 60th against the run, allowing 150 rushing yards per game. In Saturday’s loss to Clemson, the Irish allowed 199 rushing yards on 42 attempts. In their win over then-No.14 Georgia Tech, Notre Dame kept the Yellow Jackets in check on the ground, as they entered the contest with the No.1 rushing attack in football.
C.J. Prosise has been one of the nation’s best running backs this season, but he didn’t have a big day on the ground in Note Dame’s first loss. While he did catch four passes for 100 yards, Prosise ran for just 50 yards on 15 attempts against Clemson. Quarterback DeShone Kizer was held to 60 yards on 15 rushes.
Notre Dame lost a tough road game last week, and almost stole a victory against Clemson. Even though they don’t have any marquee wins, the Irish are still one of the best teams in the country. Prosise should have a bounce-back performance, and it could be another big win for Notre Dame over Navy.
Notre Dame over Navy, 38-23