Streak Over?

By Adam Caparell - November 01, 2007

The last time Navy beat Notre Dame was 1963. But with the Irish down on their luck, and seemingly at its lowest point in recent memory, could this be the year the Midshipmen put an end to its NCAA-record losing streak against Notre Dame?

There are some very encouraging signs.

The Midshipmen, vying to become the first team in NCAA history to lead the nation in rushing three straight years, are the best running team in the country yet again. Averaging 342.9 yards per game on the ground, Navy has out-gained opponents by over 1,300 yards while averaging 35.8 points per game.

Notre Dame, on the other hand, has a few things working against it. For starters, the Irish have been dreadful against the run and their inability to stop a Navy offense that can chew up the clock, convert on third down and put points on the board could quite easily leave the offense in a precarious spot. The Irish do not have an offense that allows them to play from behind since they average just 10 points per game. They're last statistically in just about every major category and with fewer possessions to work with greater precision will be required. Precision is something you don't associate with this year's version of the Irish offense. And Charlie Weis knows it.

"You're going to get fewer possessions. You're going to have to make the most of them," the Notre Dame coach said. "For example, last year we scored 38, and usually most games this year, 30s or 40s are regularity with (Navy). And because the most touchdowns we've scored in a game offensively, let's be bottom line, we've only scored three touchdowns in a game offensively. This is a team that's scoring five, six touchdowns a game; it's definitely a concern about the production per possession because you're going to have fewer of them in the game."

But it's not like Navy isn't vulnerable, or beatable. The Midshipmen can give up points and yards with the best of them and of course there's that considerable size difference between the two teams.

"They have a huge offensive line and they will have a big size differential against us," Navy coach Paul Johnson said. "I am sure they will try and get their running back going and I'm sure they will toss it deep a few times as well, everybody we play does."

But the Irish no longer excel at that, either. And in part, that's why Vegas barely gives the edge to Notre Dame. The Irish are only a 3.5 point favorites at home and the rule of thumb is you get three points for being at home.

So if you're a betting man, Navy looks pretty enticing this week. But place your bets against the Irish now while you can. Weis is going to feature a lot of his younger players in the season's final four games as he gears up for the future. The pounding of Notre Dame won't continue very long. Weis expects the Irish to be a pretty good team next season - certainly better than their 1-7 record - and nd in two years, Weis thinks they could be flying.

But as for Saturday, and the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country, Weis has assured everyone he won't concern his players with the 43-game winning streak.

"I think that when you're 1-7 you're trying to beat whoever you're playing, and I think that the streak isn't nearly as important as winning a game at home," Weis said. "I think it's been since the last regular season game last year since we've won a game at home. I think that's the streak that they're most concerned with, winning a game at home."

Posted by Adam Caparell at 06:03 PM on November 01, 2007

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