Navy and Notre Dame have played 13 times in Ken Niumatalolo’s tenure, and none may be as important as this one.
Niumatalolo is looking to avoid his first-ever streak of losing seasons in Annapolis, and this is by far the toughest test left on Navy’s schedule: The No. 10 team in the country, Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The Irish, who have won five straight at home against the Midshipmen, come into the weekend on a three-game winning streak.
Navy is coming off a huge victory at Tulsa, moving its record to 2-6 on the season and keeping their bowl eligibility alive.
For Navy to extend that out another week, they’re going to have to play as well as they did against Cincinnati and last week against Tulsa, especially on defense.
It may be a tall order, but never say never with this young Midshipmen team.
This game also marks the rekindling of the longtime rivalry between the Irish and the Mids. The two sides met every single year on the football field between 1927 and 2019, and it was once the longest uninterrupted intersectional rivalry in college football. Last year’s game — originally scheduled to be played in Ireland, then in Annapolis — was canceled due to the pandemic, and because Notre Dame temporarily joined the ACC.
Navy Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense
Navy did not complete a pass for the first time in 33 games last Friday, but it didn’t deter them from a field goal victory over Tulsa.
The Midshipmen had a field day on the ground per usual, rushing for 302 yards on 60 carries. They also dragged-out play like Navy teams usually do, holding time of possession for nearly 15 minutes more than the Golden Hurricane.
Luckily for the Mids, Notre Dame does not have the best rush defense, ranking in the middle of the country. Last time out against Navy, the Irish gave up a total of 313 yards on the ground, including 138 to Malcolm Perry. They will have to pick that up again.
Linebacker JD Bertrand has picked up most tackles for the Irish defense, notching 71 on the season.
For Navy to fool this defense full of five-star recruits, they will likely need to complete a pass or two though. This season, the Irish have struggled through the air, ranking 101st in the country in passing yards allowed.
Tai Lavatai showed some good versatility against Cincinnati, completing 11 passes against only four incompletions against the fourth-best passing defense in the country.
Navy Defense vs. Notre Dame Offense
This year, the Irish haven’t had the most explosive offense, but it has been good enough to get the job done in seven of its eight games.
Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan has come into South Bend and — honestly — has produced average numbers. With an average QBR of 66.9, and 1,610 passing yards this season, he ranks in the middle of the pack for both of those.
On the bright side, Coan has limited the turnovers, only throwing four interceptions. The Navy defense had quite possibly its best game in the secondary this season, last week, intercepting a ball and giving up only 165 passing yards to one of the better passing teams in the country.
It does not get much better for the Irish on the ground, as its running game ranks 94th in all of college football.
Kyren Williams does most of the run work, averaging 88.4 yards per game.
Navy rush defense was pretty solid last week against Tulsa. With the exclusion of a 78-yard rush, Navy held the Golden Hurricane to 51 yards on the other 29 rushes.
How To Watch
- When: Saturday, Nov. 6 – 3:30 P.M. EST
- Where: Notre Dame Stadium – South Bend, Indiana
- Watch: Mike Tirico, Drew Brees and Kathryn Tappen will have the call on NBC.
- Spread: Most books have the Irish as a 21-point favorite with an over-under set at 47.5.