Tobias Hoonhout — Managing Editor
While Navy isn’t the team it planned on being at the start of the season, a tangle with Notre Dame is always an opportunity to make a statement. And yes, this team is a lot better than its record implies. But the Midshipmen are running into the wrong Notre Dame team at the wrong time.
From top to bottom, I think the Irish match up extremely well with Ken Niumatalolo’s squad. On both sides of the ball, the Irish look to have what it takes to take down any potential giant killer — offensively, the unit’s big-play potential means it can make the most of its opportunities, and defensively, junior safety Alohi Gilman gives Notre Dame all it needs and then some to make up for the loss of Greer Martini. Plus, the Irish are coming off a bye, with plenty of time to prepare for any tricks a potential giant killer might throw Brian Kelly’s way.
Yes, games in the second half of the season in California can be scary for ND. But I’m feeling a treat over a trick.
FINAL: Notre Dame 31, Navy 20
Elizabeth Greason — Assistant Managing Editor
Navy and Notre Dame. Name a more iconic duo. I’ll wait.
Haven’t got one? I thought so. Entering their 92nd matchup, the two teams know each other so well it’s as if they’re brothers separated at birth. But this season, the storyline is that one of those brothers impressed mom by joining the military and one impressed mom by being really, really good at football.
Navy has been struggling as of late. Actually, throughout this whole season, and it has appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough the last two weeks. I expect they’ll play well and even break through this week against Notre Dame on Saturday, but even this Navy team at its best is not going to be enough to combat junior quarterback Ian Book, senior running back Dexter Williams and the Notre Dame offense; and senior linebacker Te’von Coney, graduate student linebacker Drue Tranquill and the Notre Dame defense. This Irish squad is a well-oiled machine, and while the Midshipmen can pose problems for the Irish depending on the day and its quarterbacks are extremely talented, without a doubt, Notre Dame will be able to shut them down and make the San Diego sun the highlight of Navy’s trip.
FINAL: Notre Dame 38, Navy 17
Joe Everett — Sports Editor
Navy is an appropriate opponent this weekend before Halloween, as the Midshipmen are quite a scary team with the No. 3 rushing attack in the country, even though their 2-5 record would indicate otherwise. Navy always plays Notre Dame hard, the triple-option is hard to stop and the game is shortened by Navy’s time-of-possesion domination. It’s a situation ripe for an upset.
I think the Pittsburgh game was a good indicator of how the Irish will fare this week. Notre Dame was able to overcome adversity and make enough plays to win a close game, but still found itself in an unexpectedly close game as Pitt pounded the rock and drained the clock, especially in the first half. Can Ian Book and the Irish offense take advantage of the limited drives they will get? I think the size of Notre Dame’s outside weapons — Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool, in particular — make enough plays to help the Irish gain another closer-than-expected win.
FINAL: Notre Dame 24, Navy 17
Connor Mulvena – Associate Sports Editor
I’m proud of my prediction last week. After several weeks of misfires and shameful score predictions, I’m back. And through the struggle, I’ve learned that in Northwest Indiana, nothing is given, everything is earned.
Notre Dame is going to win this game. Brian Kelly is historically good off the bye week, and this team has proven a lot over the last few weeks.
I finally feel confident about this team, and I’m all right with that right now. I’d usually take that as a sign that something really bad is about to come, but I think we have a few weeks before that.
All of that being said, Navy always plays Notre Dame tough, and no matter what weapons the Irish have on defense, time of possession always worries me. Navy just has a knack for possessing the ball, and this year is no different. It might not matter if you don’t have the weapons to push into the red zone, but field goals add up. And when you play Navy, time takes on a strange element, and the first quarter slips into halftime before you’ve blinked and there is a minute left to play. I think this will be a problem for the Irish, but they’ll end up claiming a respectable victory against an underrated program.
FINAL: Notre Dame 24, Navy 13
Charlotte Edmonds – Associate Sports Editor
My season has gone in the opposite direction of the Irish. After a solid start of predictions that included the closest margin of victory over Ball State, I’ve fallen so far, merely throwing out numbers and hoping for the best. Now, with Connor creeping up on my fourth-place position, I’ve adopted a survive-and-advance mentality. So, without further ado: We’re at the point in the season where the Irish have solidified their status as a serious playoff contender, and with no major matchups in the near future, it’s a matter of taking care of business. As perennial Power-Five programs dive into their face-offs, Notre Dame controls its own destiny.
Although Navy has managed to post impressive offensive production, with two weeks of rest under their belt, the Irish defense should be ready to handle the Midshipmen. With sophomore running back Jafar Armstrong joining Dexter Williams in the lineup for the first time since Vanderbilt, this Irish offense should be able to impose their will on a lackluster Navy defense. The big question comes down to Book. Two interceptions against Pitt nearly cost the Irish their perfect record. He seemed to be trying a little too hard to channel his inner Baker Mayfield or, dare I say, Brandon Wimbush. Getting away from Notre Dame Stadium may be just the thing Book needs to settle back in. On that note, I expect to return from San Diego with a statement win. Now for my standings among this column, hopefully there’s some truth this weekend that fortune favors the bold.
FINAL: Notre Dame 42, Navy 24