Notre Dame and Navy will renew their rivalry when the Fighting Irish host the Midshipmen on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
The Fighting Irish and Midshipmen held the longest continuous rivalry in college football at 93 years before COVID-19 restrictions canceled the 2020 game. Notre Dame (7-1, No. 10 CFP) is the clear favorite against Navy (2-6) as the rivalry returns to South Bend.
Despite a less than stellar record, the Midshipmen have shown plenty of fight in games. Navy lost 31-24 at SMU and 27-20 to No. 6 Cincinnati in October. The Bearcats defeated the Irish 24-13 to end Notre Dame's 26-game home winning streak.
The Midshipmen rallied for a 20-17 win last week at Tulsa, with zero completed passes. Tai Lavatai was 0-for-3 but rushed for 302 yards. Carlinos Acie (80 yards) and Chance Warren (70 yards) also rushed for 70 yards or more.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo's triple-option offense presents a challenge for first-year defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. But, Freeman is familiar with Navy having faced the Midshipmen while in the same role at Cincinnati. Freeman is 2-1 against Navy, with a 42-32 loss in 2017, a 42-0 win in 2018, and a 27-20 victory in 2020. The Midshipmen rushed for 569 yards in the win in Freeman's debut as DC for the Bearcats. Freeman's unit improved in the next two meetings against the run.
Freeman will be without All-American safety Kyle Hamilton for a second straight week as he recovers from a knee injury. It's unknown if Hamilton will return at all once he's healthy as he could sit out to avoid another injury prior to the NFL Draft.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees appear to have settled on the quarterback position with Jack Coan as the starter and Tyler Buchner used in spurts. Coan was 16-for-24 for 213 yards and one touchdown in the Irish's 44-34 win against North Carolina last week. Buchner was 2-for-2 for 17 yards with one score. But, it was a breakout game for running back Kyren Williams, who rushed for 199 yards on 22 carries and a 91-yard score. A more stout rushing attack from Williams will help ease the pressure on Coan and Buchner.
Note: On Tap Sports Net will now be using the College Football Playoff rankings instead of the Associated Press Top 25 rankings.
Notre Dame is 77-13-1 against Navy in the all-time series, including a three-game win streak. Navy last defeated the Irish 28-27 in 2016 in Jacksonville. The Midshipmen haven't won in South Bend since 2019, with a 23-21 victory.
Spread: -21 ND
How to Watch
What: Navy at No. 10 Notre Dame
When: 2:30 PM CT, Saturday
Where: Notre Dame Stadium; South Bend, Ind.