The hype was all for not. "Is this the year that Navy breaks the streak?"
In a very business-like manner, the Notre Dame football team soundly defeated Navy, and that's all they needed to do.
It wasn't flashy, it wasn't even that exciting, but it was a sound victory and all that anyone should ask for.
The most exciting thing I saw on Saturday was that the Irish came out from the first whistle and played with passion on both sides of the ball. They came on a mission to prove to Navy, and the rest of the world, that they were clearly the better team on Saturday, and they were.
Two outstanding drives on offense to start the game resulted in 14 points and the Irish offense was clearly firing on all cylinders.
The defense played with the same passion we'd see them play with against the very best teams on the schedule.
And that's the point, really. The Irish knew Navy wasn't going to go away, and they knew they couldn't just go through the motions and win this game. They had to come prepared to play and they did just that.
Some Irish fans will try to cheapen this win and that's sad. They'll say "we should kill Navy every year." Well, if Notre Dame were currently a top five team, I'd agree they should kill Navy, but they're not a top five team at this point. I do think they took a big step in the right direction towards that goal with this game.
To be honest, not one of us reading this would've been surprised if Navy took Notre Dame down to the wire or even beat them on Saturday.
The Midshipmen were 5-0 and playing with a lot of confidence, and we've seen what confident teams can do (Purdue). They had 16 days to prepare for this game—don't discount this factor. They had plenty of advantages and momentum to break the streak on Saturday.
But the Irish didn't allow that to happen and that should be celebrated.
Was in a pretty win? Not really, but it sure was pretty at times.
I'm not trying to ignore the fact that the Irish seem to fall asleep at times when they have a lead. I'm not trying to ignore the fact that they should've won the game by more points.
I am saying that you should celebrate the fact that the Irish were in a position to do such a thing as many of us would not have been surprised if the game were close or they lost.
Come on, admit it, this was a nice job by the Irish players and coaching staff. It's really that simple.
The Irish coaches had an excellent game plan, and the Irish players executed it well for the most part. That's all anyone can ask for.
Yes, they should've won by more. Yes, it bothers me that they can't seem to finish teams off. Yes, I wonder if they can play with the same passion for four quarters, but no one can argue that this team is not improving each week. Their improvement just might not be at the pace many Irish fans would like.
So where do the Irish go from here?
They can start by collecting on a debt that is long overdue.
Boston College is that 800-pound gorilla that's sitting in the room that nobody wants to talk about. Everybody knows it's there; they just don't want to acknowledge its existence. And that has been the problem.
The Irish have to show the same respect to Boston College that they gave to Navy. They'll need to put together another fantastic game plan and execute it at a high level to beat the Eagles. And they better come out firing on all cylinders again, like Navy, or it could be a long day.
The Eagles lost a heartbreaker on Saturday and I fully expect them to play their best game of the season against Notre Dame because they always do.
The Irish have lost four of the last five games to Boston College. This Irish team owes Boston College, and the game will simply come down to which team wants the game more. The Eagles have wanted it more the last three years in a row. Will the Irish want this game more?
I believe they will. We'll see.
Running Game Concerns
I am concerned about the Irish running game for the rest of the season.
Ryan Grant showed once again why he's a leader and a warrior. Grant carried the Irish on 1 ½ legs on Saturday and showed how much he's been missed in the Irish offense. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how much he'll have left to give if they can't find someone else to share the load.
I'm not doctor but something is clearly wrong with Darius Walker. He also looks like he's worn down and it's obvious the staff believes the same with the limited carries he had on Saturday.
I was thrilled to death when running backs coach Buzz Preston inserted Travis Thomas into the game in the fourth quarter. Thomas has been suffering from "fumblitis" but just needed another chance.
Preston clearly inserted Thomas at just the right time and the sophomore showed what's he's capable of. Thomas has the burst that Grant and Walker lack currently, and can run with the same power as Grant.
The Irish are going to need Thomas for the rest of the year because they don't have anyone that can carry the mail 35 times a game. Thomas, without fumbling, could play a huge role the rest of the year.