Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 12, 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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32 NOV. 12, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA I t's that time of the year for an an- nual tradition that has only been broken once since it became a fix- ture in 1927 — and it took a global pandemic, of all things, to snap it. It's that time of the year for Navy vs. Notre Dame, what was previously the longest uninterrupted intersectional college football rivalry in the country before the COVID-19 pandemic and everything that came with it forced a one-year hiatus of the Midshipmen and Fighting Irish clashing on the gridiron. This isn't a rivalry that gets blood boiling like the Iron Bowl. Or the Red River Showdown. Or the Egg Bowl. Or any other regional rivalry that comes with defending geographical territory and desperately pleading for 365 days' worth of bragging rights. But it is one that packs a punch historically. Some say all great rivalries have a bal- ance of both teams beating the other. This one doesn't check that box either; Notre Dame's all-time record vs. Navy is 80- 13-1. But tell the same thing to the boys of "Bedlam," Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Sooners have a 90-19-7 all- time record vs. the Cowboys. The Texas Longhorns beat Texas A&M 76 times to the Aggies' 34 victories before that an- nual rivalry was temporarily halted af- ter a burnt orange triumph in 2011. Ohio State beat Michigan 15 times in the last 16 games prior to the Wolverines' romp of the Buckeyes last November. Point being, Notre Dame vs. Navy doesn't have to have all the bells and whistles. And spare the "the Irish just beat 'em down every year" takes, too. That happens in even the best of college football rivalries. The fact remains that this head-to- head tilt isn't going anywhere anytime soon — unless something goes terribly wrong at an overseas live animal market again. Then all bets are off. NOT SO SMOOTH SAILING The parallels between Navy and an- other one of Notre Dame's annual foes, Stanford, are quite uncanny. Not so long ago, Navy was a con- tender to win 10 games every year, do- ing so in 2009, 2015 and 2019. But in the last three seasons including a 3-5 start to 2022, head coach Ken Niumatalolo's team has a record of 10-20. Stanford's well-documented success a decade ago was a bit more profound; the Cardinal won 12 games three times from 2010-15 and 11 games two other times in the same stretch. But in the last four sea- sons through Week 9 of 2022, the Car- dinal are 14-24. One of those victories, though, came over Notre Dame in a 16-14 upset in South Bend in mid-October. This Notre Dame team, under the guidance of first-year head coach Mar- cus Freeman, has been prone to playing down to the opponent's level of compe- tition. If the Irish somehow find them- selves locked in a battle with the Mid- shipmen, it would be another case of falling victim to that trend. This is not one of Niumatalolo's best teams in the 15 years he's been the head coach at Navy. The Midshipmen started the season with a 14-7 loss to Delaware, an FCS- level opponent. Navy had not lost to an FCS team since being defeated by Delaware in 2007. Navy fumbled three times in the first half of this year's matchup and lost de- spite outgaining the Blue Hens 319 to 202 in total yards. "Our No. 1 thing on offense is always take care of the ball," Niumatalolo said postgame. "You can't beat anybody turning the ball over three times. … You couldn't have a worse start fumbling on the first play of the game." The ship has been righted, to an ex- tent, following a 37-13 Week 2 loss to Memphis in which Navy turned the ball over another three times. Navy had a GAME PREVIEW: NAVY SINKING SHIP Midshipmen continue to struggle and are on pace to endure their third straight losing season Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo is enduring another tough season, which has become the norm of late for the Midshipmen. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME AT NAVY Date: Nov. 12, 2022 Site: M&T Bank Stadium (at Baltimore) Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET Television: ABC Radio: This game can be heard on Notre Dame IMG affiliates. Series Facts: This is the 95th all-time meeting between Notre Dame and Navy. The Fighting Irish hold the series lead 80-13-1 and won the last meeting 34-6 in South Bend on Nov. 6, 2021. Head coaches: Navy — Ken Niumatalolo (108-81, 15th season); Notre Dame — Marcus Freeman (6-4, first season). Noting Navy: The Midshipmen are the only team in the FBS that will not play a home game in the month of November; it's the first time since 1988 for that to be the case for them … Navy quarterback Xavier Arline is also a starting attackman for the academy's lacrosse team; Arline was originally committed to play football and lacrosse at North Carolina … Navy has a combined four senior starters on offense and defense, which is tied with California, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Temple for the third fewest in the country … Navy has 14 players from Ohio, not far away from Notre Dame's stomping grounds in northern Indiana … Niumatalolo is the longest-tenured coach in the American Athletic Conference; he's also the winningest head coach in Navy history and the winningest coach in the history of the Army-Navy rivalry with 10 wins … Navy is 68-19 under Niumatalolo when scoring first and 88-6 when entering the fourth quarter with a lead.

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