Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Navy
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, November 4, 2016
Alex Carson, Assistant Managing Editor
Don’t fool yourself; these are two flawed football teams. Navy can’t really stop anyone — the Midshipmen gave up 37 points per game in a 2-2 October — while the Irish finally failed in their quest to give every close game away last week against Miami.
Against a weak defense, the Irish offense will be more than fine, and I expect the run game to break out for a big performance. Though a young defense must perform well against the always-tough triple option attack, it’s also vital to limit mistakes in this situation. You can’t waste opportunities and expect to beat Ken Niumatalolo’s Navy teams.
Unfortunately for the Irish, that recurring inability to play clean football comes back and bites them this week.
FINAL SCORE: Navy 42, Notre Dame 38
Zach Klonsinski, Assistant Managing Editor
I went against Notre Dame last week because I didn’t think it’d be able to get the monkey off its back. The Irish proved me wrong. Now that win will be the antidote the Irish needed to get rolling through the second half of the season.
The Midshipmen have found success on the field this year, but last year’s Notre Dame squad was also largely dominant in victories over option teams Navy and Georgia Tech.
Execution is important in every game against the option, and last week the Irish found out how to execute in a close game for the first time this season. If Notre Dame combines what it learned last year with the energy it found against Miami, another close one goes to the Irish.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 45, Navy 38
Marek Mazurek, Sports Editor
Notre Dame tried really hard last to lose last Saturday, but Brian Kelly’s squad just couldn’t quite pull it off. The special teams mishaps are certainly cause for concern, but the fact that the Irish were able to overcome them is encouraging.
While the Irish are looking to build momentum, Navy is, as always, a tough test. The Midshipmen have flirted with the AP rankings this year after beating then-No. 6 Houston. Last week they lost to South Florida, but they scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
This is a winnable game for Notre Dame, but the defense will have to take another big step to do so. With a lot of young players seeing the option for the first time, however, I don’t see the Irish escaping Florida with a W.
FINAL SCORE: Navy 31, Notre Dame 28
Ben Padanilam, Associate Sports Editor
Notre Dame finally managed to win a close game last week, but only after allowing at least 17 unanswered points — 27 this time around — for the fifth game this season.
While topping Miami might provide a nice confidence boost for the Irish, the blown lead and miscues that caused it show this team still has a lot of problems that teams which win consistently can’t have.
And that doesn’t even account for 5-2 Navy, whose triple option has always posed problems for Notre Dame. And it’s added a passing attack this year, having already thrown for 81 percent of last season’s entire output thus far.
Barring a miracle fix of its problems, Notre Dame won’t top Navy in Jacksonville, Florida.
FINAL SCORE: Navy 35, Notre Dame 27
Renee Griffin, Sports Writer
Notre Dame is finally on an upswing after pulling out a close win against a solid Miami team last weekend. Navy, meanwhile, is on a downswing after a 52-45 loss to South Florida pushed them out of the top 25.
But this is Notre Dame and Navy we’re talking about. Even in years when Notre Dame has been a top-25 team and Navy has been a nobody, the Irish have struggled to contain the Midshipmen’s signature triple option. Navy’s offense appears particularly prolific this season, and the Irish safeties are particularly young this season. Add in Notre Dame’s underwhelming rushing production on offense this year and it seems highly unlikely that Notre Dame can step off the field with a win for the second week in a row.
FINAL SCORE: Navy 38, Notre Dame 31