Saturday's Keys

It's not about beating Navy this weekend, it's about beating them impressively. The ninth-ranked Irish have a lot of work to do in a little bit a time. Opportunities to impress voters are running out. Notre Dame needs to get cracking with a huge win over the Middies.

Here are the keys to the game.

1. Roll up at least 450 yards of offense: To do this, it will have to be a balanced attack. Notre Dame will have to run for close to 200 yards and quarterback Brady Quinn will do the rest. Navy shouldn't be able to stop the Irish from doing anything if they are playing well. Gaining a lot of yards will impress the voters to an extent. Remember, the Irish are playing Navy here, and voters will hold that against them.

2. Not contain, but completely dismantle the option: Navy comes in ranked second in the nation in yards rushing per game. If the Irish can limit the Middies to less than 100 yards rushing, the right people will take notice.

3. Win by four touchdowns: It's time to start making statements with five games to go. Voters aren't going to respect the next four opponents ND plays, so the Irish will have to win soundly. Four touchdowns and clear the bench is all a team can do right now.

Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Navy 10: The Irish will be too big and too fast for the Middies. Gone are the days when Navy coach Paul Johnson can out-coach a Notre Dame team and nearly pull off the upset. Charlie Weis will have his guys ready to take care of business.

Offensive MVP: Darius Walker has taken a lot of heat this week. The running back will rush for close to 150 yards and get another 75 receiving with two scores.

Defensive MVP: Maurice Crum Jr. will play his best game to date statistically, constantly breaking up the option, recording double-digit tackles, with a quarter of them coming behind the line of scrimmage. Top Stories