Already in playoff mode, Notre Dame football improved to 8-0 despite a few hiccups against Navy.
The Irish have been in the hunt for the College Football Playoff for the last few weeks. Sitting at No. 3 in the AP Poll and the first CFP rankings coming out this week, it is clear for Notre Dame football – win and you’re in.
A one-loss Notre Dame team opens up a completely different conversation. Head coach Brian Kelly would rather bypass any such conversation and let his talented squad’s potentially undefeated season do the talking.
It’s highly unlikely that any team in the College Football Playoff would not have had to face any kind of adversity to get there. Adjustments, as the season goes along, are what divides teams that will be in the playoff and teams that will not.
For the Irish, it was benching starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush after a 3-0 start. It was playing the first four games without Dexter Williams. Adversity is the absurd travel schedule during the last five games of the season for the Irish.
Most recently the adversity has been a one-dimensional run game.
Williams is a talent that changed the season for the Irish during his first game against Stanford. After that, Virginia Tech eliminated Williams as a threat in the first half and Pitt did even better.
A big reason why he found success rushing against Navy (142 yards and three touchdowns) is because Jafar Armstrong returned from injury.
He was able to get the run game back under control for the Irish and added the extra threat that the team needed. Rushing for 52 yards on a 5.8 yards-per-carry average and one touchdown, his impact stretched outside of that.
Armstrong was about to find himself wide open in the flat. He quickly became one of Ian Book’s favorite targets. The running back would finish with a team-best 64 receiving yards on five receptions.
Not only did Armstrong give Notre Dame the extra push that they needed for the 44-22 victory over Navy, but he will give them the push needed to round out the last four games of the regular season.