Navy (6-3 SU, 4-3-2 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday, November 18th, 3:30 PM
Where: Notre Dame Stadium
By Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NAVY +18 / ND -18
Over/Under Total: 62.5
Familiar foes face off in South Bend when Notre Dame plays host to Navy on Saturday afternoon. This will be the 91st meeting between the teams with the Irish holding a 76-13-1 all time advantage, though it was the Midshipmen who won their most recent matchup with a 28-27 victory last November, which ended a six game skid for them in the series.
One of the biggest questions entering Saturdays game is how Notre Dame will respond after getting demolished by Miami last week 41-8 in what was their least inspired performance in recent team history, which was especially surprising given the playoff implications and the fact the game was the teams most important since their championship run in 2012. But much like five years ago when the fun ended with an absolute destruction at the hands of Alabama in a game that was already over five minutes in, the Irish were ill equipped and unprepared to deal with the emotion and talent of the Hurricanes and the results showed on the scoreboard throughout the 60 minutes of domination.
Under head coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame is now 1-10 in their last eleven games against teams ranked in the top 13 of the polls. They are also just 2-5 in their last seven November games and 1-5 in their last six games against ranked teams in November, with their only win coming back in 2010 against a Utah team that eventually ended their season unranked. Late in the year games are when teams usually step up to the occasion with each week carrying such a high implication of importance, but that has certainly not been the case for the Irish under Brian Kelly, who continues to struggle in preparing his team for when it truly matters most and in turn any chance of real success is lost once again under his command.
The Irish game plan for the Miami game was so laughably predictable that Mark Richt commented after the game that his defensive coaches were calling out the Notre Dame plays before they even happened. Despite having a dominant left side of their offensive line they consistently ran to the right and further damaged themselves by trying to use pitch plays and sweeps against the speedy Hurricane defensive line rather than go up the middle where star back Josh Adams has found a majority of big play success throughout the season, which was a lesson they probably should have learned after dealing with the same issue in their loss to Georgia back in September. Instead they were doomed to repeat history, and again fans were left wondering what could have been if only they had a coach that didnt disappear when it matters most.
While Kelly failed to prepare his team adequately for the game, the players didnt do much to help their own cause on the field and got outplayed in every facet of the game. Josh Adams struggled throughout and he along with his Heisman campaign ended with only 40 yards on 16 carries, but it was the sloppiness of quarterback Brandon Wimbush that was truly the teams undoing on the field. The Irish signal caller has had issues with accuracy throughout the year with just a 50.9% completion rate, and especially struggled against the Hurricanes by missing a wide open Eqanimeous St. Brown for an easy touchdown on the first drive of the game that would given an early lead and a great deal of momentum, and instead eventually finished with three of his teams four turnovers that Miami was able to convert into 24 points.
With their playoff hopes lost and gone away, Notre Dame will look to turn things around as they still find themselves in position for a New Year Six bowl game if they win out with victories against Navy this weekend and at Stanford the following Saturday to end their season. To do so the players will need to find inner motivation since they certainly cant rely on their imitation of a coach to do, and will need to play sound and balanced football against a Navy team that has won four of the last ten games in the series after having lost 43 games in a row to the Irish from 1964-2006.
The Midshipmen are coming off a last second 43-40 victory against SMU in a game that became a lot more difficult than it should have been with Navy blowing 34-11 halftime lead before finally putting the Mustangs away. The win ended a three game losing streak for coach Ken Niumatalolos squad, which had started the year with five straight wins before dropping the consecutive games to Memphis, UCF and Temple. It also continued an unfortunate trend for the Navy defense as they have now let up an average of 36 points per in their last five games and as such rank just 90th nationally in points allowed.
The biggest question for Navy going into Saturdays game is who will start for them at the quarterback position. Former slotback Malcolm Perry started for the Midshipmen in their last game after Zach Abey injured his shoulder against Temple, and Perry made the most of his opportunity by rushing for 282 yards and four touchdowns against SMU, with his yardage total the third highest in school history. He unfortunately injured his ankle late in the game and was unable to lead his team on their final drive, which instead was done by junior Garret Lewis, who promptly guided his team to the one yard line before they eventually won on a field goal as time expired. All three appear to be in line to play on Saturday, but with health still a factor throughout the position, it would not at all be a surprise to see all three take the field at one point or another on Saturday.
Navy may not be competing for a conference title this season, but they are still in position to play for the heralded Commander in Chiefs Trophy with their game against Army in Philadelphia on December 9th the deciding factor with both teams having already beaten Air Force this season. Their annual matchup can always be counted on to be a good one to watch with legit heroes on both sides of the field and each running the best formation in college football in the option, but this year should be especially entertaining with Army looking to win their first C.I.C. Trophy in 21 years and Navy motivated to rebound from last years 48-45 loss against the Black Knights which ended a fourteen game winning streak in the series for the Midshipmen.
The previous history of the matchup seems to favor Navy, as they are 10-2 against the spread in their last twelve trips to South Bend and the road team in the series has covered in 17 of the past 22 games. I would never pick a team based upon trends, but I am going with Navy and the points on Saturday as Notre Dame is not only coming off of a brutal loss, but also in part of a big game sandwich with Stanford on tap next week to close out the season. The Irish players will at least go into Saturdays matchup with a chance since Navy isnt ranked, as this means head coach Brian Kelly wont be a near guarantee to turn into a gutless fraud since the game isnt considered one of extreme importance against top tier competition, but I will still be going with the Midshipmen to cover the 18 point line on Saturday afternoon against Notre Dame.
Mike M’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Navy +18. - Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.