The Notre Dame-Navy rivalry became lackluster for a while when the Irish continued to win for 43-straight years, but recently came back to life after the Midshipmen won three out of the four games between 2007 and 2011.
Notre Dame has since retaken control in the past two seasons with two high margin wins, including a 50-10 victory in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, but will have to continue playing good football in order to stay in the driver’s seat against Navy.
Like the game against Air Force, Notre Dame will be up against a triple option offense, unfortunately a much better one. Coach Brian Kelly summed it up best in this week’s press conference saying, "Navy runs the triple option better than anybody in the country. I mean, it's what they do. And they have so many variations off of it, just little variations that make a huge difference."
Notre Dame will have to contain Navy’s speedy quarterback, Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds had big rushing days in every Navy win this year so shutting him down will be crucial. The Fighting Irish will likely be without two starting defensive lineman, one being Louis Nix, who most consider to be a future NFL first round draft pick. Veterans Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo have to have solid performances while younger guys like Romeo Okwara, Sheldon Day and Jaylon Smith have to continue to step up when they get chances.
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees seems to be settling in nicely at this point of the season. More receivers are getting involved and the offenses is putting together some good drives. One of Naval Academy's most successful alum, NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson, may have to jump ship for the rivalry as his son is a freshman wide receiver for Notre Dame. Corey Robinson, who caught his first ever touchdown last week, told ESPN, "I need to talk to my dad about this, make sure he's wearing my jersey or wearing Notre Dame something as opposed to Navy."
Notre Dame’s running back situation remains a competition. Each guy has shown promise but no one seems to be able to claim the number one spot for now. Brian Kelly will continue to use his stable of running backs however he sees fit.
Notre Dame had another slow start last week and cannot continue that trend as the season goes on. The defense can strengthen their revival by continuing the good play despite missing Nix. Rees and the offense shouldn’t have a tough time finding ways to score on the Navy defense. If Notre Dame can take care of the football and not turn the ball over they should have no problem getting the win over Navy.