Notre Dame did not do itself any favors in the race for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff last week while getting crushed in Miami (Fla.). The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish will try to put the pieces back together when they host Navy on Saturday.
Notre Dame not only went into Miami and came out with a 41-8 loss, but its other loss - a 20-19 setback to Georgia at home on Sept. 9 - began to look a little worse after the Bulldogs were beaten by Auburn on Saturday, leaving the Fighting Irish to play the rest of the season for things other than a spot in the Playoff. “Football builds character and resolve; that’s what we’re looking for,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters. “It’s a bigger picture.” The Midshipmen snapped a three-game slide with a 43-40 win over SMU last week to become bowl eligible for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons with six wins. Navy made a switch at quarterback last week with Zach Abey hurt and let sophomore Malcolm Perry guide the triple-option attack, leading to 559 rushing yards in the win.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Notre Dame -17.5
ABOUT NAVY (6-3): Perry adds more speed than Abey and showed off with 282 yards and four TDs on the ground against SMU. Perry, who had his only pass attempt in the game intercepted, added his named to the injured list in the Navy backfield with an ankle injury toward the end of the win and could find himself back on the sidelines this weekend with the Midshipman still shuffling through their options at quarterback. “Zach will definitely be back in the mix and I’ll turn this back over to (quarterbacks coach Ivin Jasper),” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo told reporters. “We’ll have to discuss it as a staff and see where we’re at. We have to find out Malcolm’s health and Zach’s health.”
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (8-2): The Fighting Irish have a quarterback that can run as well in junior Brandon Wimbush, who was limited to 24 yards and a lost fumble on 11 carries at Miami while passing for just 119 yards and a pair of interceptions. “I think he’s a competitor,” Kelly told reporters of Wimbush. “A competitor wants to be at his best when his best is needed, and he wasn’t.” Running back Josh Adams saw his Heisman Trophy candidacy take a major hit in the loss as well, and he was limited to a total of 62 yards on 21 carries in the last two contests.
1. Navy leads FBS in rushing yards per game (369.8) while Notre Dame ranks sixth (303.2).
2. Perry was named FBS Walter Camp offensive player of the week for his performance against SMU.
3. The Midshipmen snapped a five-game losing streak in the annual series with a 28-27 win over the Fighting Irish last season.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame 45, Navy 31