Head to head: Navy vs. Notre Dame

Next up for Navy is Notre Dame. GoMids.com compares different critical team areas of Navy and Notre Dame and indicates which team has the edge.

NAVY
EDGE
AREA
Notre Dame
EDGE
COMMENTS
 
Navy rushing offense
vs.
Notre Dame rushing defense
 
Ricky Dobbs returns but the question is how sharp he will be. The Midshipmen struggled last week without their starting quarterback. Temple held Navy to just 7 of 17 on Third-Down Conversions. While the Fighting Irish defense has been disappointing this season, they have been steady against the run. Notre Dame ranks 50th in rushing defense giving up an average of 123.9 yards per game.  
EVEN  
Navy passing offense
vs.
Notre Dame passing defense
EVEN  
With Dobbs back under center, the threat of the pass becomes realistic again. Navy has thrown for just 27 yards the last two weeks. The Fighting Irish have been giving up passing yards by the boat load. Notre Dame is giving up an average of 260.1 yards per game. Only 11 FBS schools give up more.  
 
Notre Dame rushing offense
vs.
Navy rushing defense
 
The Fighting Irish's rushing attack has been solid but unspectacular. Armando Allen (5-10, 200, Jr.) missed last week's game against Washington State with an ankle injury and is listed as day-to-day. If he can't go expect to see a combination of backup Robert Hughes (5-11, 234, Jr.) and fullback James Aldridge (6-0, 225, Sr.) as Notre Dame will try and pound between the tackles against the smaller Midshipmen. The hot and cold rushing defense for the Midshipmen was frigid last week allowing Temple freshman Bernard Pierce to run for 274 yards.  
 
Notre Dame passing offense
vs.
Navy passing defense
 
Jimmy Clausen (6-3, 223, Jr.) is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. He is 172 of 257 passing for 2,318 yards with 18 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. This week star receiver Michael Floyd (6-3, 220, So.) returns from a broken collarbone. Add him to speedster Golden Tate (5-11, 195, Jr.) and huge tight end Kyle Rudolph (6-6, 260, So.) and Clausen has no shortage of quality targets. The only hitch to the Irish's passing game comes in the form of a torn ACL to backup quarterback Dayne Crist (6-4, 235, So.). The Navy secondary has played well, but the lack of a pass rush (104th is sacks, 118th in tackles for loss) could give Clausen time to read a book before he connects with his talented group of receivers.  
EVEN
Special Teams
EVEN  
Nick Tausch (6-0, 190, Fr.) has been consistent for the Irish. He has connected on 14 of his 15 field goal attempts and 24 of 27 PAT's. The rest of Notre Dames usually strong special teams have underperformed. The Fight Irish are ranked 64th in punt returns, 51st in kickoff returns and 95th in net punting. Joe Buckley has been "Mr. Clutch", and Kyle Delahooke is establishing himself as one of the better punters in Navy history, but the lack of a return game (74th in punt returns and 119th in kickoff returns) and the breakdown that led to the kickoff return against Temple are dragging the entire unit down.  
 
Coaching
 
At the beginning of the season, probably no one was on a hotter seat then Charlie Weis. Weis has his team 6-2 and ranked #19 in the AP Poll and #21 by the USA Today/Coaches Poll. Weis is 35-23 in his Fifth Year at his Alma Mater. Ken Niumatalolo fell to 14-9 with the loss to Temple.  
 
Intangibles
 
The Fight Irish still have an outside chance for a BCS birth. A 10-2 Notre Dame would be more appealing to the powers that be then an undefeated Boise State or TCU. Jimmy Clausen has a shot at the Heisman Trophy and will be looking to improve his NFL Draft stock. The Midshipmen are looking for respect after a devastating loss to Temple. Navy currently has a 1 game winning streak at Notre Dame Stadium.  


PREDICTION: Notre Dame 38, Navy 14

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