Short answer: The Midshipmen won't be able to slow down an Irish attack that averages almost 40 points a ballgame. The mismatches abound everywhere an analyst looks. Navy's tallest starting secondary member is 5-11. Notre Dame have two 6-5 receivers having stellar seasons. The Midshipmen are giving up 159 yards a game through the air and that number will be going up. Brady Quinn should have his pick of options to throw the ball to and exploit an undersized group. Head coach Charlie Weis can also look at Navy allowing 182 yards a contest on the ground. Irish running back Darius Walker has been in a holding pattern since the Purdue game and this could be the Saturday where he gets back on track. If the Midshipmen sell out on the blitz, Quinn could be looking at another 400 yard, five touchdown performance. If Navy sits back and plays their base defense, Walker and Travis Thomas should have huge afternoons running the football. Turnovers will be the only thing holding the Irish back from putting up 40-plus points.
Does the option offense present some problems to the Notre Dame's defense?
Navy's philosophy on offense is easy to decipher. They want to run the ball and then run it some more. Last week, Midshipmen quarterback Lamar Owens put the ball in the air a total of two times. This was the case because Navy ran for 418 yards, the 15th best performance in school history. There are built-in disadvantages for opposing teams playing the Midshipmen. It's tough to fully prepare for an option offense and all its wrinkles in just one week of practice. Notre Dame has the athletes on defense to counter this. The worry here is that the Irish safeties play an aggressive brand of football. If they get sucked into the line of scrimmage too far, Navy can hit a big passing play. For the season, the Midshipmen are averaging 19 yards per catch.
The 41-game consecutive winning streak against Navy is on the line this weekend for Notre Dame. But it's not in any real jeopardy. The Midshipmen, like most teams the Irish have played this year, must play keep away from the Notre Dame offense. This is possible because of the option attack they employ. Navy averages 281 yards per game rushing but somehow they are losing the time of possession battle this season 29 minutes to 31 minutes. This stat does not bode well for the Naval Academy. The Irish have way too many weapons on offense for the Midshipmen to handle. Weis can pick either the pass or the run to exploit a Navy defense that should be in for a long Saturday afternoon. The oddsmakers are about right on this one by installing Notre Dame as a 24-point favorite. The offense piles up over 500 yards in total offense and the Irish roll to a comfortable victory. Notre Dame 44 Navy 21.