For Irish fans like myself, this is obviously the toughest article of the year to write. A lot of bad things have happened to Brian Kelly and his troops both on and off the field since last Thursday and I’m not one to dwell on the past, thus, my entry will be predictably short and to the point. I’m going to keep the focus on the on field activities because I do not consider myself capable in any way to discuss the tragic events that unfolded yesterday in South Bend. My thoughts and prayers go out to Declan Sullivan’s family and friends during this difficult time.
Let’s revisit (quickly) what happened last Saturday in the Meadowlands Massacre. All Navy did was carry the ball 60 times for 367 yards (6.1 ypc), while throwing only two passes (both complete for a total of 71 yards) against a hopeless Notre Dame defense. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs scored three touchdowns while fullback Alexander Teich carried the ball 26 times for 210 yards (8.1 ypc) to go along with a 31 yard touchdown reception. Need to know anything else? The final score was 35-17, but the game was not nearly that close. The Irish managed only 363 total yards of offense and Dayne Crist threw 2 costly interceptions that resulted in 14 points for the Midshipmen. Yes, we could say that the Irish were without their top 3 weapons in Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, and Theo Riddick. The only flaw in that theory is the fact that none of the above play defense. This game was the definition of one team imposing it’s will on the other; a complete domination in every sense of the word. Notre Dame was well aware of the fact that Navy was going to run the ball on every play and they couldn’t do anything about it. Combine this with the fact that Notre Dame seemingly had no idea who actually had the ball and one has to wonder why every team wouldn’t run the triple option against the Irish until they prove they can stop it. The Midshipmen officially own the series right now having won 3 of the last 4 meetings, including their most lopsided victory against the Irish since 1963 last weekend.
So, where do the Irish go from here? Well, it’s easy to say 8-4, but a realistic fan knows that anything better than 6-6 at this point would be a huge upset. Brian Kelly has made it clear how badly the Irish need the extra 15 practices that go along with being bowl eligible at 6-6 and it’s not going to be easy to get there. When you consider the fact that Notre Dame still has to play at USC and at home against 8th ranked Utah, it’s no secret that this week’s game against the Golden Hurricanes is yet another must win situation for the Irish. The defense will have their hands full against a Tulsa offense that ranks 13th in the nation. It’s a balanced attack that averages 270 yards passing and 221 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, the Irish will be able to move the ball easily through the air against a Tulsa pass defense that ranks 120th (dead last folks) against the pass. Safe to say we can assume a shootout on Saturday? My prediction, ND 34 Tulsa 31.
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Written by Tim Lewis