Notre Dame football is back in action against Navy this week. Here are the key matchups to watch for when the Irish have the football.
Coming off a much needed bye week, Notre Dame travels to San Diego, California to take on Navy for their week nine matchup. The bye week came at a perfect time for the Irish, who were dealing with lingering injuries and escaped with a sloppy 19-14 win over Pittsburgh two weeks ago. As this last stretch of the season kicks off, Notre Dame is in a prime position to make their first ever College Football Playoff. The No. 3 Irish control their own destiny and the next step to the postseason is against a struggling Navy team.
Navy has given Notre Dame trouble in over the last eight seasons during the Brian Kelly era. Since 2010, the Irish are 6-2 against the Midshipmen and winning by an average score of 38-25. That’s not terrible, but during that stretch there have only been three wins in those eight meetings that have been by more than 10 points. Notre Dame is 3-2 in those games decided by less than 10 points, and the three wins were by 4, 10, and 7 points. So, while the Irish are clearly the more talented team on paper, recent history shows that Navy is plenty capable of keeping the game close and possibly spoiling the Irish season with an upset.
Navy is having a down year, currently sitting 2-5 with three of those losses being by less than a touchdown. When it comes to their defense, they have certainly struggled so far this season. Here are their national ranks in the following defensive categories:
- Total Defense: 85th (2,938 yards)
- Yards/Game: 97th (420 yards)
- Pass Yards/Game: 102nd (254 yards)
- Rush Yards/Game: 75th (166 yards)
- Points/Game: 107th (34 points)
- Sacks: 123rd (7 sacks)
- Defensive Efficiency: 113th (24,7)
It’s kind of difficult to spin any of those numbers into a positive for the Midshipmen. This year’s Navy defense was tasked with replacing eight of their top-12 tacklers from a season ago, including both inside linebackers and both starting cornerbacks.
Regardless, we have seen this situation before. A struggling team doesn’t always translate to a easy victory, as we saw with Ball State, Vanderbilt, and Pittsburgh. The Irish will still need to execute and win individual and positional matchups to leave San Diego 8-0.
Here are the matchups to watch for when the Irish offense is on the field against Navy’s defense.