1 – Ranking of the Notre Dame punt coverage unit after seven games this season. Notre Dame has allowed minus one yard on six total returns. The low total of returns is nothing new in South Bend; opponents returned just eight punts vs. the Irish last season though the coverage crew and punters Eric Maust (since graduated) and current sophomore Ben Turk finished a lowly 105th nationally in punt coverage defense. The Turk/Maust combo ranked 99th in net punting last season. This year, Turk enters Week Eight ranked 37th with a net average of 37.87 yards per punt.
2 – Fewer touchdowns allowed by the 2010 Irish defense in comparison to the maligned 2009 crew through seven games. Bob Diaco's 2010 group has yielded 10 rushing and 7 receiving scores over the first seven contests while the 2009 crew of Jon Tenuta and Corwin Brown allowed 8 rushing and 11 passing over their first seven games. The '09 defense allowed 16 scores over the final five contests of 2009, losing the last four.
3 – Punts by the Irish vs. the Midshipmen over the last five matchups. Each of the three occurred in the 2008 game won by Charlie Weis' crew, 27-21. Weis' Irish did not punt in the '05, '06, '07 or '09 contests but famously dropped two of those games ('07 and '09).
4 – Touchdown drives by the Irish offense vs. Western Michigan last Saturday that took less than one minute to complete. The Naval Academy has not allowed a touchdown drive in less than a minute this season though Air Force did score on a 3-play, 80-yard drive that took just 1:05 off the clock thanks to a 50-yard TD run by QB Tim Jefferson. The second lowest time of possession for a TD vs. the Midshipmen this season was a 5-play, 2:48 drive in the season opening loss to Maryland.
5 – Rushing TD scored by Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs this season through six games. Dobbs finished second in the FBS to Heisman finalist Toby Gerhart with 27 rushing touchdowns last season. In perhaps the 2010 season's biggest statistical surprise, junior Irish QB Dayne Crist has run for one fewer touchdown (4) than has Dobbs at the time of the matchup.
6 – Rushes of 10 yards or more allowed by the Irish defense over the last four contests (Stanford, BC, Pittsburgh, Western Michigan). The same defense allowed 21 such carries vs. the season's first three opponents (Purdue, Michigan and MSU). Last season, Navy executed 10 carries in excess of 10 yards vs. the Irish defense en route to 343 net rushing yards.
7 – Bowl appearances by the Naval Academy over the past seven seasons. Navy is 3-4 in those post-season contests. Notre Dame has appeared in a bowl game on six occasions over the last decade (including the 2000 season), winning just once, a 2008 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl matchup over the host program.
8 – Matchups between the teams over the last 11 seasons in which neither entered the contest ranked. Dating back to the 2000 season, only the 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006 Irish were ranked at the time of the matchup with the Middies. Navy has not been ranked when facing the Irish since 1978, when the No. 15 Irish beat No. 11 Navy 27-7 in Cleveland. Notre Dame was ranked in nine of ten contests between the teams from 1987 through 1996 but has entered the matchup ranked just five times since.
9 – National rank of the Navy rush offense entering the team's seventh game. Navy averages 259 yards per game on the ground, a 21-yard per game drop-off from the end of last season. The Midshipmen pounded in for 44 rushing touchdowns (6 passing) last season in 14 contests but have run for just 12 scores (4 passing) through six games in 2010.
10 – Double digit wins by the Irish vs. Navy in neutral site or true road games over the last 12 meetings. Gerry Faust's 1984 Irish slipped by Navy with a John Carney game-winning field goal with 14 seconds remaining (the Irish erased an 11-point deficit in the win). Not until the 2002 matchup between the teams did Navy again threaten the Irish outside of South Bend, losing 30-23 after holding an 8-point edge with less than five minutes remaining. Navy again put a scare into the Notre Dame faithful in a wild comeback effort vs. Charlie Weis' squad in 2008, eventually falling 27-21 with a chance to win on the game's final two plays (albeit from 30 yards out).
11.29 – Average tackles per game for Irish sophomore linebacker Manti Te'o, who ranks 10th nationally. Te'o posted a season high 21 stops vs. Stanford in Week Four and a season low five vs. Pittsburgh in Week Six. He's posted between 9 and 13 tackles in each of Notre Dame's remaining five contests to date. An Irish linebacker has posted at least 10 total tackles vs. Navy in every matchup between the teams since the 2001 season when LB Tyreo Harrison led Notre Dame with 9 stops in a 34-16 Irish win in South Bend.
12 – Scoring drives by Navy opponents this season that have needed eight or more snaps. Of the 19 scores (13 TD) vs. the Midshipmen this season, 15 have started in the opponents' territory. Navy ranks sixth nationally with just six turnovers in six games. An offense's ability to travel a great distance to score is necessary vs. the Midshipmen defense.
Bonus Stat: 0 – Yards lost by fullback Vince Murray on his 14 carries vs. the Irish last season. Murray rushed for a game-high 158 yards and a touchdown in the contest but was never stopped short of the line of scrimmage. Six of the fullback's carries resulted in a first down or touchdown.
On the HorizonIrish players that could reasonably accomplish statistical milestones Saturday vs. the Midshipmen:
Armando Allen: Needs 8 receiving yards to supplant Darius Walker (2004-06) for 4th place on the position's receiving yardage list. Allen could finish as high as No. 2 on the position's career list, though first place is likely out of reach:
- Joseph Heap 1137 (1951-54)
- Bob Gladieux 947 (1966-68)
- Jim Morse 902 (1954-56)
- Darius Walker 816 (2004-06)
- Armando Allen Jr. 809 (2007-)
Two weeks ago vs. Pittsburgh, Allen moved past Rocket Ismail (1988-1990) into 5th place on the program's all-purpose yardage list. He trails only Julius Jones (5,462), Autry Denson (5,327), Allen Pinkett (5,259) and Tim Brown (5,024) on the all-time list. Allen has amassed 4,250 all-purpose yards thanks to the early portion of his career in which he totaled 1,360 kick and punt return yards. With 2,078 career rushing yards, Allen needs 197 rushing yards to move into 10th place on the program's career rushing list.
Darrin Walls: With 19 career pass breakups, Walls needs two to move ahead of Ralph Stepaniak (1969-71) and the legendary Todd Lyght (1987-1990) into fifth-place on the program's career list. With seven pass breakups over the last games (including a Bowl), Walls would overtake Shane Walton (1999-2002) for third-place in program history.
David Ruffer:Has connected on 17 consecutive field goals and all 17 attempts in his career. Ruffer is 12 for 12 this season and needs two more successful attempts to match teammate Nick Tausch's record of 14 consecutive field goals in a single season.
Michael Floyd: Has caught 136 passes in 23 career games. With his next three catches he'll pass Tim Brown (1984-87) and Jim Seymour (1966-68) for fifth-place on the all-time list. Floyd enters Saturday's contest 21 receptions short of tying Tom Gatewood and Golden Tate (2007-09) for third on the programs list and 43 short of Jeff Samardzija's program record 179 grabs from 2003-2006.
Floyd needs one touchdown catch to break his current tie with Derrick Mayes (1992-95) and Rhema McKnight (2002-06) for third place on the list. Floyd is four TD receptions shy of Tate (26) and Samardzija (27) for the program record.
Likewise, Floyd needs 58 receiving yards to pass Maurice Stovall (2002-05) for 7th on the program's career yardage list.