Notre Dame has rivals that stir up disgust, annoyance and pure hatred. Seeing three letters together, U-S-C, typically ignites a fire in the eyes of any Irish fan. At the mention of Michigan, most Irish fans facial expressions change quickly. As of recent, Miami has been renewed as a much disliked foe.
Then, there is Navy. There is no disgust. There is no annoyance. There is no hatred. The only feeling I have toward the Navy Football Team is pure respect. How can you not have respect? Navy is the only team Notre Dame plays where the opponent would die for the Irish players, if necessary. That truth is humbling.
Navy entered the season with confident victory over Florida Atlantic 42-19. In fact, Navy was 5-0 at the start of the season. This included impressive wins over Cincinnati and Air Force. Then, the Midshipmen faced Memphis were they lost a tight battle 30-27. Unfortunately, the 5-0 start soon became a distant memory as the Midshipmen lost the next two games against UCF and Temple.
Last week, Navy played against SMU. Ben Hicks, SMU quarterback, threw his fourth touchdown pass with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter. This score tied the Midshipmen at 40. The Midshipmen drove down the field and kicked a game winning field goal with no time on the clock. Impressive win. However, the most impressive moment was Navy’s Malcolm Perry dashing down the sidelines for a 92 yard score.
Navy plays tough every year. I would not expect any less. These young men are trained for battle, on and off the field. They are warriors. They are soldiers. They are the best of all of us.
Navy averages a beautiful 33.7 points per game. Yet, their defense allows 30.3 per game. The Navy defense puts a lot of pressure on the offense to out-preform the opponent. This bodes well for the Irish offense which will be the most dynamic the Midshipmen have seen all season. ESPN’s power index has the Irish at 95% chance to win the game.
The Navy defense has accounted for 12 sacks and 6 interceptions. Senior linebacker, Micah Thomas, has three of those interceptions. Thomas is the second leading tackler on the team with 60 on the season.
I fully expect Notre Dame to win the game. The Irish are playing at home for the last time in 2017. Notre Dame will get back to winning form with a possible 20 point victory. I expect the defense to bounce back from last week’s loss to Miami. Drue Tranquill has excelled in every game against an option opponent. Look for Tranquill to continue his impact performance this Saturday against Navy.
Notre Dame will have players take the field loved by many. Navy will have heroes take the field loved by all. In my favorite game of every season, Notre Dame wins 42-20. Josh Adams will have himself a day. Brandon Wimbush will easily throw for 200+ yards. Stepherson will be the leading recevier.