For some college football teams, the sound of disbelief can be deafening and debilitating. A bad start to a season or a few consecutive losses can quickly roll into a snowball of a forgettable season.
Other times, the magic of “Nobody believes in us!” can be a powerful motivator.
When it comes to the Navy Midshipmen, few think they are capable of beating No. 3 Notre Dame. The Mids have fell in four straight games. The Irish are undefeated. Notre Dame is favored by more than three touchdowns. Navy has given up 34.7 points over its last four games.
The Midshipmen’s backs are against the wall. A 2-5 start — with games against No. 10 UCF and a tough Army team still left on the schedule — would make it very difficult to continue their six-year streak of making a trip to a bowl game. If Navy wants to turn its season around, upsetting Notre Dame is necessary.
Can the Mids pull off the improbable in San Diego?
Kickoff: 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Oct. 27
Watch: CBS – Carter Blackburn is on play-by-play, with color commentary provided by Aaron Taylor and Rick Neuheisel. John Schriffen will report from the sidelines.
Where: San Diego County Credit Union Stadium – San Diego, California
Spread: Most books have Notre Dame favored by about 23.5 points. Connelly thinks Navy will cover by just a hair, predicting a final score of 41-18.
Last Time Around
Notre Dame, then ranked No. 9, beat Navy 24-17 last year in South Bend, Indiana. Brandon Wimbush threw two touchdowns and ran for another in the win for the Irish. Zach Abey also scored two touchdowns, but his efforts weren’t enough to will the Mids to back to back wins over the Irish. Navy last beat Notre Dame in 2016, taking a 28-27 victory in Jacksonville, led by Will Worth’s 223 yards of total offense.
Navy’s run game: The Midshipmen need to take care of the ball and grind out scoring drives to keep Notre Dame’s offense off the field. The Irish are 30th in FBS in run defense and it’s a weakness the Mids need to exploit to be in position to win this game. Malcolm Perry hasn’t cracked triple digits in rushing yards since Navy spanked Lehigh. The versatile junior is due for a big game. While Notre Dame is undefeated, it’s had a few close games this year. Pitt and Ball State both had success running the ball against the Irish.
They Said It
Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame safety who transferred away from Navy, via Capital Gazette: “There were a lot of people who doubted me – from coaches to players to members of the brigade. I didn’t doubt myself at all, not one bit. There was not one moment when I second-guessed this decision because I am very confident in my abilities and I knew I could play at this level.”
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame head coach, via AP: “From a defensive standpoint, that attention to detail and everything that you do is at a premium. We could use two more bye weeks to prepare for Navy in terms of what they present to you.”
Navy covers that big spread, but still comes up short, losing 34-31. Seeing the Mids prove this prediction wrong would be impressive, and a lot of fun.