Notre Dame vs. Navy prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Fighting Irish and Midshipmen on Saturday in Jacksonville, FL.
Notre Dame vs. Navy Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 5 – 11:30 a.m. ET
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
TV Broadcast: CBS
The Fighting Irish (3-5) blew a 20-point lead to Miami last Saturday in South Bend, but Justin Yoon’s 23-yard field goal with 30 seconds left gave Brian Kelly’s squad a 30-27 victory. The win ended a three-game home losing streak for the Irish. Defensive tackle Jarron Jones was raring to go as soon as the game started, as he made three tackles for loss and deflected a pass within the first five plays. He finished with six tackles for loss in the much-needed win.
Meanwhile, the Midshipmen (5-2) fell behind 42-14 to USF last Friday night before their comeback fell short in a 52-45 loss in Tampa. USF signal-caller Quinton Flowers rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns, and the Bulls scored on their first six possessions to build a 28-point halftime lead. Ken Niumatalolo’s squad struggled initially on offense before getting on track, but it was too late as Navy suffered an eventual close loss.
In last year’s meeting between these two teams in South Bend, Navy struggled to protect the football, turning it over three times and giving up three C.J. Prosise rushing touchdowns as the Irish beat the Midshipmen 41-24. ND leads the series 76-12-1.
What To Know About Notre Dame
Kelly’s squad put together a complete game (despite the blown lead), as it shined on offense and defense in the win over the Hurricanes. However, the Irish special teams still featured plenty of gaffes, especially in the punt return game. Errors included: a Miami punt hitting the leg of Troy Pride Jr., which was recovered by the ‘Canes and set up their first touchdown; Miami recovering an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff; Tyler Newsome having a punt blocked; and C.J. Sanders not handling a punt that was recovered by Miami in the end zone. The bright spot was that Chris Finke’s 23-yard punt return set up Yoon’s game-winning 23-yard field goal. Yoon went 3-for-3 in the game. Special teams is a major area that needs to be cleaned up, however, if the Irish want to keep their bowl hopes alive.
What to Know About Navy
The Midshipmen gave up 629 total yards to USF, as their overmatched defense gave up touchdowns on six of USF’s seven first-half possessions. Offensively, the Middies usually are able to control the football behind their potent rushing attack, essentially keeping opposing offenses off of the field. It didn’t quite work against the Bulls last week, but that will be the plan this week against the Irish. Despite suffering through some of their own struggles, DeShone Kizer and the Irish offense can score in bursts. Navy is averaging 444.0 yards per game, with 296.6 of those coming on the ground. The team’s other loss on the season was at Air Force, but the Middies did give Houston its first loss of the year.
Offense: Even. Navy has better offensive numbers, but Notre Dame still has elite talent on that side of the ball and looked good against the Hurricanes.
Defense: Even. The Irish entered the Miami game ranked No. 125 in sacks with just six in seven games, but they sacked Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya five times last week.
Special Teams: Navy. The Irish could lose a game if they don’t clean up their punt return game.
Coaching: Even. Kelly is suffering through a rough year, but he took the Irish to a BCS title game. Meanwhile, Niumatalolo has the Navy offense productive once again.
Intangibles: Navy. The Irish have momentum, sure, but Navy is always up for a big game against the Irish. And it’s at a neutral site.
Matchup To Watch
Navy option attack vs. Notre Dame defensive front
In Navy’s loss to the Irish last year, it finished with 318 rushing yards after heading into the game averaging 340 yards on the ground. So Notre Dame struggled to stop it even though Navy didn’t hit its average. However, turnovers did in the Midshipmen. The Irish also held Georgia Tech below its average in a win last year, so the Irish have familiarity with the triple option. Kelly is playing a lot of youth on both sides of the ball, though, so it will be interesting to see if ND can contain the Navy rushing attack.
Spread: Notre Dame -4.5
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
Notre Dame vs. Navy Prediction
Expect a lot of points in this one. The Irish will be able to move the ball both through the air and on the ground, while Will Worth and the Middies will focus on the ground (although Worth can throw pretty well for an option quarterback). Ultimately, I can’t see the Irish slowing down the Navy attack enough, and an Irish turnover in the fourth quarter will help seal a Navy victory.
Notre Dame vs. Navy Score Prediction: Navy 35, Notre Dame 31