Saturday, November 7, 2009


We’re now almost two full years removed from the worst day of my four years of college. That day I watched Travis Thomas get smothered on a two-point conversion try that would’ve sent our game with Navy to a fourth overtime, snapping our 43 game win streak against the Middies. My Dad saw the streak start in person in 1964; I watched it end in person in 2007.

To say that’s not a fond memory would be the understatement of the century. The only thing way I console myself about that game is with the fact that one of my best friends Lizz (who was a junior at the Academy) got to experience the breaking of the streak. She also never mentioned the game to me once, which is just a testament to how good a friend she really is.

This year Navy travels back to South Bend to renew the series. The Irish are favored by 11 points and the consensus seems to be that the spread is a bit too high. Navy is a very solid team this year with a dynamic (albeit banged up) quarterback at the helm of their triple option attack. They took Ohio State to the brink in the first game of the season, they beat a Wake Forest team that should have beaten Miami last weekend, and they’re already on their way to another Commander-in-Chief trophy. Navy is a legitimately dangerous team and they’re not an opponent to be taken lightly.

That being said I don’t think this game will be close. Here’s why:

1. Michael Floyd and Golden Tate…the Middies had no answer for the tandem of Stovall and Samardzija in 2005. Today they face a pair that’s even better and more athletic. This is Floyd’s first game back since breaking his collarbone so one would think he’d be limited, but by all accounts he was impressive in practice and might play even more than initially expected. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they could both go over 100 yards with at least a touchdown a piece.

2. Kyle Rudolph…While Navy has to worry about stopping the duo on the outside, they’re going to have plenty of issues trying to matchup with all 6-6 and 260lbs of Kyle Rudolph. He’s been very quiet since the Washington game so it wouldn’t surprise me if Weis tried to get him involved a bit—there should be plenty of room to operate with Floyd back.

3. Jimmy Clausen…He has 18 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on the year—and you could argue each of the picks wasn’t his fault (a dropped deflection from Armando and a jump ball at the end of a half). You could count the number of passes that have even been CLOSE to being intercepted on one hand. Today he has the full arsenal of weapons in the passing game at his disposal for the first time since Michigan State and it’s against a physically overmatched defense. Weis is aware of how close he is to becoming the front runner for the Heisman—I don’t think he calls off the dogs until Jimmy gets 300yds and 4TD’s.

4. The Maturation of the Front Seven…The last three games the front seven has improved leaps and bounds from the swiss cheese unit we saw the first handful of games. All the credit in the world to Randy Hart and Bryant Young for transforming this unit from a clear weakness to one that seems to be on the verge of fulfilling its considerable potential. The front seven is much more talented than the line it will be going up against, but defending the triple option attack takes as much discipline as it does physical talent. Judging by how prepared we’ve been going into games since Southern Cal I have no doubt we’ll be ready to defend it.

5. History…There is a reason Notre Dame won 43 straight games against the Naval Academy. Every single time they take the field Notre Dame has more talent at just about every position—and the disparity is not close. It took one of Navy’s best teams of the last forty years three overtimes to beat the worst team in Notre Dame history by two points. Last year Notre Dame only won by six but if you watched the game that was a very deceiving final. The Irish were up 27-7 late in the fourth quarter and had pulled all their starters. Running back Jonas Gray fumbled on the Navy one yard line and the Mids responded by unleashing a ridiculous comeback that included a 99-yard touchdown drive, an 18 second touchdown drive, and two recovered onside kicks. Give credit to Navy for coming back, but Notre Dame clearly dominated them until the second stringers took the field. This year’s Notre Dame team is far superior to last year’s.

We’ve really been living on the edge all year even when playing against inferior opponents which has made it very difficult to predict Irish games this year…but when you add those five things up I’m comfortable in saying it leads to a decisive Irish victory.

Notre Dame 38
Navy 17

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