Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#357 Navy 54.5 vs.
#358 Notre Dame -7
Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 2:30pm EST
Written by Benjamin Hayes

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#357 United States Naval Academy
#358 University of Notre Dame
7-1
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6-2
5-4
5-3
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40
34
18
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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 roll

Navy 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.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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They are certainly betting Navy as this line started at Notre Dame -9.5. I still like Navy as Notre Dame has not been playing well lately. It's also going to be very cold, with a high of 35 degrees. That favors the run-heavy Mids and not the more balanced Irish. Navy is not horrible against the run, while Notre Dame struggles against the run this season. The bottom line is that the triple option is not easy to stop when you have a quarterback as good as Perry or as fast as one. Now that Perry can throw a bit downfield, it makes the offense even more difficult to stop. Who really wants to face that after playing Duke? Nobody does.

Prediction: Navy +7.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Last year's total went over and I can say that happening again. But the score will be a lot closer. Navy scored 22 points last season and they were not very good on either side of the ball. On a bad day, Notre Dame is putting up at least 21 points. But defensively, they will struggle against the option offense. Navy is much-improved defensively, but Notre Dame is the second-best team they've faced thus far after Memphis. They allowed Memphis to score 35 points and gave up a bunch of big plays. Both of these teams could score into the 30's.

Prediction: Over 53.5

Half-Time Side Pick

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This Navy team is very impressive. They are disciplined and make few mistakes. Sure, this is a big jump from playing Tulane, but the Mids already played Memphis. If they can avoid giving up too many big plays, they could be up at the half in the cold from South Bend.

Prediction: Navy +5.5 first half
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Written By Benjamin Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!