Notre Dame is no longer in contention for the College Football Playoff, but that didn’t matter against Duke last week. It will try and put in a similar performance, though Navy is back to winning after a down 2018. The Fighting Irish were -8 point home favorites with an over/under of 54 as of Wednesday.
The Irish got back on track last week, but beating up on Duke doesn’t mean much. Either way, the Irish had been struggling prior to that game, barely beating the likes of USC and Virginia Tech, and getting blown out at Michigan.
This game will be a little different because they haven’t seen a triple option this season. Notre Dame dominated last year’s matchup 44-22, yet that was a bad Navy team and it still ran for 292 yards in the loss. This one should go a little different because Notre Dame’s weakness is run defense, allowing 155.6 rushing yards per game on 3.9 yards per carry.
If that run defense doesn’t improve, this is a perfect spot for a Navy upset because it can hold onto the ball and move the chains methodically. Malcolm Perry will pass when the ground game isn’t working, but that hasn’t been a problem this season as he’s averaging 6.6 yards per carry.
As a team, the Midshipmen are averaging 6.1 yards per carry with Jamale Carothers providing some electricity the last few games behind Nelson Smith. While their numbers are great, it’s important to note that Navy hasn’t exactly played a difficult schedule. Their lone loss came against Memphis, while their best wins are at home against Air Force and Tulane.
Sure, Notre Dame hasn’t won its most difficult games, but it’s definitely a step up in competition for the Mids. Defensively, Navy has great numbers, allowing 18.1 points per game and 3.2 yards per carry, but it was only a couple weeks ago that this defense gave up 38 points to Tulane.
Notre Dame’s offense has been somewhat hard to peg down. Top running back Tony Jones is battling injury and had just 14 yards against Duke, yet the Irish ran for 288 yards behind Ian Book, who led with 139 yards on 12 carries.
He probably won’t hit that number again, but this is an offense that needs to run the ball in order to have success and that’s usually through Jones. Ian Book isn’t the most efficient quarterback, averaging 7.1 yards per attempt on 58.0% completion, and if the ground game isn’t working, that could become a problem.
Navy should put up a fight, but it’s a wonder what the step up in competition will do to them. In its toughest game of the season, it outgained Memphis by 70 yards yet still lost by 12 points. But if the Mids can move the ball, this should be competitive, simply because they’ll eat up the clock.
Each team has trends that point to the under, but the over is 7-2 in the last nine meetings between these schools. The road team is 12-4 ATS in the last 16 meetings and the Midshipmen are 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings played at Notre Dame.
Our Pick – Navy +7.5