If, as coaches often say, "you are what you are," then Navy has some good news as well as some bad news to deal with.
Bad news first: Navy isn't nearly as good as the Irish. See, that didn't hurt too much, did it?
But then, once one digests that unfortunate but undeniable reality, it should also dawn upon followers of Annapolis Football that Navy is better than each of its remaining opponents, and moreover, that Navy has achieved a lot--some could even say overachieved--to this point of the 2004 season.
Did you notice how Air Force is second in the Mountain West behind a Utah team it seriously pushed for three quarters in a game played a couple of weeks ago? Navy beat that Air Force team in Colorado Springs.
Did you notice how on Saturday, several hours after the Midshipmen lost to the Irish, a Tulsa team that Navy blasted 29-0 almost stunned Boise State, leading the unbeaten and nationally-ranked Broncos until the final 80 seconds of regulation?
Navy has done some special things this season, figuring out ways to win close games after romping on a number of occasions last year. The loss to the Irish put the boys at a lower place in college football's pecking order, but that lower place still rates highly among all 117 Division I-A teams.
With a lineup of Rice, Delaware, Tulane, Rutgers and Army, Paul Johnson's team--if it remains opportunistic the way it was in the first five games of the year--will similarly close out its final five games in style. Ten and one, in any year, is a great season, and if Navy uses the physical pounding at the hands of Notre Dame to become a sharper and tougher team the rest of the way, that loss--while disappointing--will continue to bear fruit.
At midseason, the Midshipmen--though tossed around by the Irish--are still sailing on steady seas. The inability to outflank Notre Dame and match up with the Irish in the trenches only reflects all the more positively on this team, which has shown enormous resourcefulness in achieving a hard-earned 5-1 mark.