Red-hot No. 24 Navy travels to No. 17 Notre Dame for an important non-conference matchup from South Bend, Ind at 2:30pmET. Navy is having an outstanding season, starting off 7-1 and having won five straight. They are coming off a bye, while the Fighting Irish beat up on Duke last week from Durham, 38-7.
The Mids last played on Nov. 1 and crushed UConn on the road, 56-10 on a Friday night. Last year, Notre Dame crushed Navy from Annapolis, 44-22. The Irish have won seven of the last eight meetings, but covered just four of those.
Mids on a rollNavy is coming off a bye week after they just annihilated UConn by 46 on the road. Senior quarterback Malcolm Perry threw for 165 yards with a score and ran for 108 yards with two TDs to lead the Mids. The win helped allow Navy to move up to 24th in the AP poll, which means that there are now four AAC schools in the Top 25 (No. 17 Cincinnati, No. 19 Memphis and No. 23 SMU).
Perry is not a one-man show but he is having a great season, passing for 722 yards on just 29 completions (13.6) with five TDs and three picks. That's not bad for a triple-option offense considering last season, he went 9-for-23 for 222 yards with two TDs and a pick. But he's most dangerous as a runner, with 1,042 yards rushing and 16 TDs (6.6ypc). Nelson Smith is second on the team with 505 yards rushing with seven TDs.
"Malcolm Perry is a dynamic offensive player," said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly in his Monday press conference. "I think he's top 15 in the country in rushing and he's the No. 1 rushing quarterback in the country. A dynamic, explosive player. Last year he played slot against us. He didn't play quarterback. Now back at the quarterback position he's precise, very secure with the football. He's a point guard, distributing, making really good decisions. Very difficult to defend.”
Last season, Notre Dame held Navy to 344 yards overall (Perry had 133 yards rushing but had moved back to slotback), but the Mids were just not able to slow down their offense (584 yards allowed). This season, Navy has improved tremendously on that side of the field, yielding just 310.9 yards per game overall, including 201.3 yards in the air. They will certainly be tested in the secondary by Ian Book and the Irish.
A tougher test?Notre Dame is an Independent but most of their sports participate in the ACC, so they play a schedule filled with almost half of teams from that league. They even played Clemson in the playoffs last season and well, that didn't turn out well (30-3 loss). But Brian Kelly has the Irish on the right path. After going 3-and-out to start the game against the Blue Devils last week, they scored the next three touchdowns to go up 21-0 and held on to win, 38-7. Duke was not as much of a threat without Daniel "Dimes" Jones, but this was an important game for the Irish.
The Fighting Irish has not played well since they defeated Bowling Green 52-0, on Oct. 5. In their next game, they barely got by against USC at home (30-27) as a 10.5-point favorite. They were smashed as a one-point dog, 45-14 at Michigan, despite coming off a bye. On Nov. 2, they beat Virginia Tech by one, 21-20 at home as a -17.5-point favorite.
Quarterback Ian Book wasn't perfect against Duke. He completed 18 of 32 for 181 yards with four TDs, but also had two picks. But he did have 139 yards rushing on 12 carries. This game was won on the ground (288 yards) and on defense. Notre Dame held the Blue Devils to just 197 total yards and forced them to go just 3-of-16 on third downs.
On the season, Book has 2,014 yards passing with 21 TDs and six picks. He also has 411 yards rushing with four scores. Starting running back Tony Jones jr. was held to just 14 yards on seven carries, but missed the Virginia Tech game due to a ribs injury. He leads the Irish with 585 yards and four TDs.
- 9-2-1 ATS last 12 overall.
- 4-0 ATS last 4 in November.
- 4-1-1 ATS last 6 road games.
- 11-2 ATS last 13 at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame is:
- 6-16-1 ATS last 23 in November.