Well, it was a sad day for Navy fans.
For the first time in just over four decades, Navy and Notre Dame met with both teams ranked inside the Top 25. Notre Dame came into the game at No. 16 in both the College Football Playoff rankings and the AP Poll. The Midshipmen were ranked at No. 23 by the CFP Committee and No. 21 by the AP voters. However, the rankings were quite deceptive regarding how good and/or close this match was going to be.
By halftime, Navy was behind 38-3. And, by the end, it was 52-20.
Ebbs and Flows
On every possession in the first half, Notre Dame scored. The storyline of the first half was centered around Notre Dame’s star wideout, Chase Claypool. Claypool was responsible for the Irish’s first three touchdowns. The storyline continued in the second half when Notre Dame found the endzone on their first time with the ball via a pass from Ian Book to...you guessed it, Chase Claypool. The 6-foot-4, 229 pound senior dominated the Navy defense this weekend, just like he will do to NFL defense on Sunday’s next year.
Although the Irish offense played well all day, the Navy offense didn’t do its defense any favors. The Midshipmen turned over the ball three times in the first half, giving Notre Dame great field position. Navy’s defense, who is used to having long periods of rest due to the dominance in time of possession, looked completely exhausted. It also doesn’t help that the Irish players are simply faster and stronger across the board.
Halfway through the third quarter, Coach Ken Niumatalolo pulled starting quarterback, Malcolm Perry, out of the game. Presumably, Niumatalolo had Navy’s future in mind and is looking to preserve Perry’s health in the long-term and his rest for next week. Notably, his backup, Perry Olsen, came into the game and tossed a 43-yard touchdown. He also led a solid 17-play drive that resulted in a rushing touchdown for himself. Olsen is a freshman and has shown signs that the offense will be in good hands next year after Malcolm Perry graduates.
One more bright spot during this game was Bijan Nichols. I know, small victories. But, Nichols was perfect on both of his field goals and his two extra points. Nichols is now 7-for-9 on the year and is gaining confidence.
The Navy season still has hope./ An exit from the Top 25 is inevitable. But, we still must remember that their record is 7-2. That’s a pretty good place to be. Additionally, this loss has no bearing on the Midshipmen chances to play in and win the American Athletic Conference Championship Game. Navy will need Memphis to lose another conference game and win against both upcoming games against Houston and SMU. Beating SMU and Houston will not be easy by any means. SMU is an incredibly talented team who is 9-1 on the year. The Mustangs will also be coming off a bye week, which gives them a huge advantage over the Mids. Playing at Houston on the day after Thanksgiving will also be very tough.
The rest of Navy’s season could be as bright as an 11-2 AAC Champion, with a win over Army and Commander-in-Chief Trophy winners, and headed to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game to represent the Group of 5. But, it could be as bad as 7-5, with a loss to Army and a boring trip to the Military Bowl in Annapolis.