Notre Dame vs. Navy Pick & Prediction
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-0 SU, 4-3 ATS) vs. Navy Midshipmen (2-5 SU, 1-6 ATS)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 27th, 8:00 PM
Where: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA
By: Mike Mann., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ND -24 / NAVY +24
Over/Under Total: 54
Notre Dame and Navy both head west to San Diego for a neutral field showdown on Saturday Night at SDCCU Stadium. The two teams have played annually since 1927 with the Irish leading the all time series 75-13-1. Navy won three of four games between 2007-2010 but Notre Dame has had the upper hand of late with wins in six of the last seven matchups.
Both come into the game in near opposite standings, with Navy sitting at a disappointing 2-5 and Notre Dame undefeated at 7-0. Another big difference has been their play at the quarterback position. For Notre Dame they are now led by Ian Book, who since taking over for Brandon Wimbush has completed 75% of his passes while throwing for 11 touchdowns compared to three interceptions while also rushing for an additional three scores. One increasingly positive aspect of his skill set is the ability to improve as the game goes on, which was seen in their most recent win against Pittsburgh that saw Book throw just one incomplete pass in the second half.
The quarterback process for the Midshipmen is a bit different, as they go with a two person rotation of Garret Lewis and Malcolm Perry. Lewis is more the passer of the two of them while Perry has twice the rushing yards of his counterpart. Unfortunately neither is completing more than 48% of their passes and as a whole they had combined to lead their team to just 101st in total offense, 129th in passing and 65th in points per game.
While Navy has struggled in the passing game, their rushing attack now ranks 3rd in the country and as they continue to run the triple option as their primary offensive formation. Quarterback Malcolm Perry leads the team in rushing while backs Nelson Smith and Anthony Gargiulo remain the focal points of the backfield with tight end Tazh Maloy getting an increasing amount of carries of late.
For Notre Dame they have a three-pronged attack at running back consisting of Dexter Williams, Tony Jones Jr. and Jafar Armstrong. Williams has been the clear leader of the pack since returning for an early season suspension, and is tops in both yards and yards per carry with an average of 7.3 per. Jones Jr. and Armstrong are still viable options with both averaging over 5 yards per carry and having scored eight touchdowns combined this season.
On the receiving end for Notre Dame, their top threat is without a doubt Myles Boykin. The junior wideout has seen a significant uptick in production since Ian Book took over as quarterback. Through the first four weeks Boykin had 9 receptions and no touchdowns but in the three weeks since Cook became starter he has 23 catches for 345 yards and four scores. After Boykin there are three others that get the lions share of the remaining receptions, and those are receivers Chris Finke and Chase Claypool along with tight end Alize Mack.
When your 129th in the country in passing offense, there isn’t going to much excitement amongst your receivers and that is certainly the case for Navy. They have just one player with over six catches on the year and not one player has more than a single touchdown so far. Taylor Jackson remains their top threat with 11 catches for 198 yards a score on the season, with CJ Williams and Mychal Cooper the best of the remaining.
Much like the comparisons at the quarterback position, there is not much in common between the Notre Dame and Navy defenses. The Midshipmen rank 71st of worse in every major defensive category including a disappointing 107th in points allowed. The Irish on the other hand rank 21st in scoring and with stalwarts Jerry Tillery, Te’Von Coney, Julian Love and Drue Tranquill, and should continue their at times dominant play, though they face a big challenge this week going up against the always difficult triple option attack of Navy.
THE FINAL DECISION
Notre Dame has excelled this season against top tier completion, compiling a 3-0 record both straight up and against the spread versus ranked teams. Unfortunately for their financial backers, they have also played down to their competition and have covered just once in four games against unranked teams. This week they face a Navy squad that they may have dominated in recent years in the standings, but they haven’t done so versus the number as the Irish have covered just once in their last five games against the Midshipmen. In what I expect to be a high scoring contest, I would take the three touchdown plus head start and take the points with Navy.
Mike’sPick to Cover the Point Spread: Navy +24