Navy Travels to South Bend for Gridiron Clash Against Notre Dame
Senior Alexander Teich rushed for a career-high 210 yards on 26 carries in last year's win over Notre Dame.
Oct. 24, 2011
Setting the Stage
In what is the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country, Navy and Notre Dame will meet for the 85th-consecutive time when they face one another on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium (80,795). Kickoff is set for 3:30 pm.
NBC will air the national broadcast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Mike Mayock (analyst) and Alex Flanagan (sideline) calling the action.
The Navy Football Tailgate Show on WNAV 1430 AM / 99.9 FM will air at 1:30 pm with Pete Medhurst live in South Bend and Joe Miller and Wylie Baker in the WNAV studio
The Navy Football Pregame Show with Bob Socci, Omar Nelson and Medhurst will get underway at 2:30 pm, followed by game action at 3:30 pm on the Navy
Radio Network and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 134).
Following the contest, Miller and Medurst will recap the day's events in a 60-minute postgame show live on WNAV 1430 AM / 99.9 FM and WFED 1050 AM.
The Mids enter Saturday's contest on a five-game losing streak, their longest losing streak since 2002 when Navy lost 10 straight. The losing streak has come at the hands of South Carolina (6-1), Air Force (3-4), Southern Miss (6-1), Rutgers (5-2) and East Carolina (3-4), who have a combined record of 23-12 (.657). Four of the five losses have been by a combined eight points.
A victory on Saturday over the Irish would mark the first time in school history that Navy has defeated Notre Dame in three-consecutive seasons and the first time Navy has won three-straight in South Bend. It would also be Navy's fourth win in five tries against the Irish.
The Mids had lost an NCAA-record 43 games in a row to Notre Dame until upsetting the Irish, 46-44, in triple overtime in 2007. After losing to Notre Dame in Baltimore in 2008, 27-21, Navy won in South Bend in 2009, 23-21, followed by a 35-17 victory last year at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
A win would also lead Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo to become the first coach in school history to beat Notre Dame three-consecutive times. He would also join Wayne Hardin as the only Navy coach to beat Notre Dame three times total (Hardin beat Notre Dame in 1960, 1961 and 1963).
Navy enters Saturday with the country's third-best rushing attack, averaging 325.1 yards per game. Notre Dame is 58th in the country in rush defense (148.3 yards per game). Navy is also 24th in the country in punt returns (12.0).
Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd is ninth in the country in receptions per game (8.1) and 23rd in receiving yards per game (95.3). Navy is 61st in the country against the pass (225.7) and 111th in pass efficiency defense (150.7). Notre Dame's George Atkinson III is ninth in the country in punt returns (30.4) and Manti Te'o is tied for 21st in the country in tackles.
The Mids need to go at least 4-1 over the final five games to go to a bowl game for the ninth-consecutive year.
Navy has missed at least one kick (PAT or field goal) in six of its seven games this year, including four-straight contests. Over the last four weeks, the Mids had an extra-point blocked in overtime against Air Force, a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown against Southern Miss, a field goal attempt blocked at Rutgers and a field goal that hit the right upright at the final gun against East Carolina.
Scouting Notre Dame
The Irish are 4-3 on the year against a very tough schedule. Notre Dame owns victories over Michigan State (31-13), Pittsburgh (15-12), Purdue (38-10) and Air Force (59-33). Meanwhile, the Irish have lost to South Florida (23-20), Michigan (35-31) and USC (31-17).
Turnovers have been the Achilles heel for the Irish. Notre Dame ranks 119th in the country in turnover margin (-1.43).
Notre Dame sports the 46th-best rushing offense (172.1), is ranked 32nd in passing offense (266.7) and 29th in total offense (438.9). The Irish are averaging 30.1 points per game (50th in the country).
Notre Dame is 58th in the country in run defense (148.3), 59th in pass defense (225.4) and 58th in total defense (373.7). The Irish are giving up 22 points per game, which is 36th in the country.
The Last Time ...
Navy 35, Notre Dame 17 Oct. 23, 2010 | East Rutherford, N.J.
Junior fullback Alexander Teich rushed for a career-high 210 yards on 26 carries, while senior quarterback Ricky Dobbs ran for 90 yards and three touchdowns to lead Navy to a 35-17 victory over Notre Dame at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
The Navy defense was equally impressive, stopping Notre Dame on a fourth-and-goal play from the one-yard line on the Irish's initial possession and picking off Dayne Crist twice.
The win gave Navy's senior class three wins in four years over the Irish as it became just the third class in school history to accomplish that feat, joining the classes of 1937 and 1964.
It also marked the first time Navy has beaten the Irish in consecutive years since 1960-61 and it was the Mids' first win over Notre Dame at a neutral site since 1960.
Navy rushed for 367 yards on the day, the most ever by a Navy team against Notre Dame, while Teich's 210 yards rushing were the most by a Navy player against the Irish.
After senior linebacker Tyler Simmons and junior nose guard Jared Marks stopped Crist at the one-yard on the opening drive of the game, the Mids answered with a 99-yard drive on just six plays with Teich ripping off a career-long 54-yard run and capping the drive with a spectacular 31-yard touchdown reception off a screen pass from Dobbs.
After a Notre Dame field goal, the Mids moved 77 yards in 12 plays with Dobbs scoring from the three to make it 14-3.
Notre Dame answered with a touchdown of its own to cut the lead to 14-10 and then forced Navy to punt on its next drive. However, senior punter Kyle Delahooke got off a perfect 44-yard punt that was downed at the Notre Dame three-yard line and then three plays later Crist was picked off at the ND 30-yard line giving Navy one more chance to score before the half.
Navy took over the ball at the 30-yard line with 1:59 remaining and after five-straight runs sophomore slot back Gee Gee Greene capped the drive with a spectacular run from the nine to put Navy up 21-10.
Greene's touchdown seemed to deflate the Irish as Navy took the second half kickoff and moved 77 yards in seven plays with Dobbs scoring from the nine to make it 28-10.
After Mitchell's interception, Navy moved 73 yards in 10 plays with Dobbs scoring from the one to put the Mids up 35-10 midway through the third quarter.
Notre Dame would add a late touchdown in the fourth to make the final 35-17.
Rally Falls Short Against The Pirates
East Carolina quarterback Dominique Davis completed 40 of his 45 pass attempts for 372 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Pirates to a 38-35 victory over Navy in front of 34,612 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Homecoming.
Davis completed an NCAA-record 26-consecutive passes to start the game as the Pirates built a 17-7 halftime advantage thanks to touchdown passes of three yards to Lance Lewis and 10 yards to Michael Bowman.
The Mids lost starting quarterback Kriss Proctor to an injured left elbow midway through the second quarter when he was hit late by East Carolina's Matt Milner. Proctor was replaced by sophomore Trey Miller, who moved the ball down to the ECU 38-yard line before fumbling the snap and East Carolina's Michael Brooks recovered it. ECU would score a touchdown on the ensuing series.
Navy's Marcus Thomas returned the second half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to cut the ECU lead to 17-14. It was Navy's first kickoff return for a touchdown since Reggie Campbell returned one against Army in 2007. Meanwhile, it was the fourth-longest return in school history.
After the Pirates answered with a one-yard touchdown run by Reggie Bullock, the Mids cut the lead to three again when Alexander Teich took the toss from Miller and scored from the one to make the score 24-21.
Bullock, however, would answer again for East Carolina, this time scoring on a 13-yard run with 14:53 left in the game.
Navy would come right back and make it 31-28 when Miller hit Brandon Turner with a 59-yard touchdown pass and then, after the defense came up with a three-and-out, the Mids would take their first lead of the game since going up 7-0 when Miller threw a strike to Matt Aiken for a 37-yard touchdown pass to give Navy a 35-31 lead with 7:51 left.
East Carolina took the ensuing kickoff and marched 77 yards in 15 plays, milking 5:37 off the clock, and took a 38-35 lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Bullock.
The Mids got the ball back at their own 28 with 2:14 left and Miller quickly went to work. After an incomplete pass on first down, Miller ran for six yards on second down and then on third-and-four, Gee Gee Greene picked up 19 yards to push the ball into ECU territory.
Teich picked up eight yards on first down and then Miller was stopped for just one on second down. After a Navy timeout the Mids threw the ball on third down, but Miller's pass to a wide open Turner in the end zone was just overthrown. On fourth down, John Howell took the option pitch and picked up five yards down to the ECU 33-yard line.
After spiking the ball to kill the clock, Miller threw incomplete to Aiken, but came right back on third down and hit Aiken down the left sideline at the two-yard line. Aiken made a spectacular grab, secured the ball, got two feet down, turned and dove over the goal line. After breaking the plane, he landed a yard inside the end zone and the ball came loose. The officials on the field called it an incomplete pass, however Navy challenged the ruling on the field as it felt the catch was made prior to the end zone and at that point the receiver became a runner and not a receiver. Once Aiken crossed the plane of the goal line it should have been ruled a touchdown.
The official in the replay booth confirmed the ruling on the field setting up a third-and-10. Miller hit Aiken over the middle for eight yards with 22 seconds left giving Navy plenty of time to get the field goal team on the field.
With eight seconds left the field goal team was in place. Teague got the ball off fast and high, but it clanged off the right goal post, sending the Mids to their fifth-straight loss and fourth by a total of eight points.
Greene led the Navy rushing attack with a career-high 92 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Howell added 49 yards on seven carries and Teich ran for 41 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Miller completed five of 12 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Turner had two catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, while Aiken had two catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Tra'ves Bush came up with 13 tackles, while David Sperry had 10 tackles and two tackles for a loss. Matt Warrick added nine stops and a pass break-up, while Chris Ferguson had eight tackles and a pass break-up. Joshua Jones recorded seven tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sack.
The mark of a good team is having the ability to win away from home. Navy is 38-24 (.613) in games played away from Annapolis over the last nine years, which is the 13th-best mark in the country.
The Mids are 1-2 (.333) in games played away from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in 2011 with the two losses coming by three points at South Carolina and by one point at Rutgers.
The Red Zone
Navy has made 28 trips inside the red zone in its seven games this season, scoring 20 times (.714), including 15 touchdowns (.536).
The Mids have struggled mightily in the red zone over the last four games, scoring on just 13 of their 20 trips (.650) including only nine touchdowns in those 20 trips (.450).
Navy is 108th in the country in red zone offense, while Notre Dame is 110th.
The Navy defense has allowed 27 red zone scores in 33 opportunities (.818), with 25 of the scores resulting in touchdowns (.758).
The Mids are tied for 48th in the country in red zone defense. Notre Dame is also tied for 48th.
First Half Woes
Navy has been outscored 80-31 in the first half of its last four games (losses to Air Force, Southern Miss, Rutgers and East Carolina), scoring just four first-half offensive touchdowns in those contests.
The Mids have not scored a point in the first quarter in each of the last three games and have not scored a touchdown in the first quarter in the last four games.
On the year, Navy has been outscored 111-91 in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Mids have outscored the opposition 134-101 in the second half (including overtime).
Navy's best quarter has been the third quarter (65-38), while the second quarter has been the Mids' worst (outscored 76-55).
Navy Vs. the BCS / Non-BCS
Since 2003, Navy owns an 18-23 (.439) record against schools from a BCS conference. The 18 wins against BCS schools during that time period are the most by a non-BCS school.
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo is 7-10 (.412) against teams from a BCS conference.
Navy's 18 wins against BCS schools have come against Vanderbilt (`03, `04), Duke (`04, `05, `06, `07), Rutgers (`04, `08), Stanford (`06), Connecticut (`06), Pitt (`07), Notre Dame (`07, `09, `10), Wake Forest (`08, `09, `10) and Missouri (`09).
Navy has beaten at least one BCS opponent in eight-consecutive years, which is the second-longest active streak in the country by a non-BCS school. TCU has had at least one BCS win in nine-consecutive seasons.
Notre Dame will be Navy's last opportunity to keep that streak alive unless the Mids lose to Notre Dame and then win the final four games and beat a team from the ACC in the Military Bowl.
Navy is No. 1 in the country in fewest penalties per game (2.3) and penalty yards per game (20.7).
Last year, the Mids finished No. 1 in the country in fewest penalty yards per game, averaging 27.6 yards per game and were second in fewest penalties per game, committing just 3.4 per contest.
In 2009, Navy was the nation's leader in fewest penalties per game (3.4) and fewest penalty yards per game (29.6).
The Mids finished No. 2 in the country in both categories in 2008, committing 3.15 penatlies per game and 26.77 penalty yards per game.
Navy has had zero penalties in a game four times since 2002, including the 2011 season-opener against Delaware and last week at Rutgers.