Navy Midshipmen (4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date/Time: Saturday, October 10th, 3:30 PM EST
Where: Notre Dame Stadium
by Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Navy +14 / Notre Dame -14
Over/Under Total: 54.5
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The Navy Midshipmen journey to South Bend to take on Notre Dame for the 88th consecutive year, the longest continuous streak of games between non-conference teams in the NCAA. The Irish will be looking to get back on track after suffering their first loss of the season last week at Clemson while Navy will be trying to continue to build upon their undefeated record of 4-0, both straight up and against the spread, making them the only remaining team in college football to have won and covered all of their games to start the 2015 season.
Senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds leads the Naval triple option attack for the fourth straight year. Reynolds started the year ranked fourth all time in NCAA history in rushing touchdowns and has already scored nine more in the teams first four games and is now just four behind Montee Ball for the all-time record of 77. Through the first month of the season the Navy quarterback has rushed for 488 yards on 87 carries to go along with his nine touchdowns and has thrown just 27 passes to start the year, completing fourteen for two touchdowns and 265 yards. The passing attack has been used so little that only one player has more than two catches so far this year, junior wideout Jamir Tillman, who has six catches for 197 yards a touchdown to lead the near non-existent Navy passing attack.
Navy is coming off a big win last week, beating Air Force 33-11 at home and putting them in great position to take home this years Commander-In-Chiefs Trophy, which is awarded to the consensus winner of the yearly matchups between the service academies of Navy, Air Force and Army. Going back to last season the Midshipman have won eight consecutive games and hope to finally break through and get a win against the Irish, as the last two years Notre Dame has barely squeaked past Navy in recent matches including last year when Navy led 31-28 in the fourth quarter before eventually losing 49-39. Their triple option has given Notre Dame fits over those last two games, but this years shut down of the vaunted Georgia Tech rushing attack should give the Irish significant confidence of overturning their recent struggles against the best offensive formation in college football.
The Irish are looking to rebound after losing last weeks rain-soaked 24-22 loss in Clemson. They let the Tigers score on their first two possessions to build a 14-3 lead and looked doomed early on but fought their way back on the shoulders of freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer, who despite the torrential weather and multiple dropped passes by his receivers managed to throw for 321 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 60 yards and one more score. There was only so much he could do as the rest of the offense continued to shoot themselves with three second half fumbles, the dropped passes, getting inconsistent/terrible play from their offensive line and not be ignored, having head coach Brian Kelly go for an incredibly questionable two point conversation very early in the fourth quarter that had serious ramifications at games end as the team was forced to go for a two point conversion that was unsuccessful after scoring a touchdown with just seconds left. The only thing more confusing than Kellys two point conversation call was why the usually intelligent Clemson fan base decided to ignore basic rushing the field/court logic and celebrate on the field after a game that they were favored to win.
While some looked at the Clemson/ND matchup as an essential playoff elimination game, that may not be true for the Irish for multiple reasons. They still have seven games remaining, including primetime matchups against USC and at Stanford, and if they win out and go 11-1 with the schedule they have faced they would logically have to be in the playoff discussion at years end. Anything appears to be possible in what has been a tumultuous and unpredictable start to the college football season as nine teams that began the year in the Top 25 are now unranked, two of which (Auburn and Oregon) that started the year in the top seven in every preseason poll.
If going by trends and recent history, Navy and the over would be the selections for this weekends game. The Midshipmen are 9-1 against the spread in their last ten games in South Bend and the road team in the series has covered in 16 of the last 20 games between the teams, while the game has gone over the total in five straight games and five of the last six games at Notre Dame. Its never wise to wager by trends though and while I do fear a sandwich scenario with Clemson last week and rival USC coming up next week, I am still picking the Irish to get their season back on track with a win and cover of the fourteen point spread.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Notre Dame -14
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