When and Where: 7:30 p.m. at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y. The game will be shown on NBC.
Series History: 37-8-4 in favor of the Fighting Irish, including a 14-5-3 Notre Dame edge in games played at the old Yankee Stadium.
Matchup: Saturday night we get the matchup of an overlooked, often completely dismissed program that has shown recent improvement after a long period of darkness and an overhyped, overexposed program that has been idling for years. This is the crossroads, the game where Army moves past Notre Dame and continues to move towards its bright future under Rich Ellerson, as the Fighting Irish continue to yearn for days gone by.
Yankee Stadium is the perfect staging point for such an event, the newest version of the big ball yard in the Bronx where these two historic programs used to battle back in their heyday. Back then the names were Rockne and the Four Horsemen – Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden – or Earl “Red” Blaik with Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Now we have Brian Kelly with Manti Te’o and Tommy Rees versus Rich Ellerson and Trent Steelman, Jared Hassin, Stephen Anderson and Josh McNary.
I am sure plenty of the Notre Dame faithful, buoyed by the strong performance against Utah, are counting on their Irish to roll over the presumed hapless Black Knights in front of a pro-Notre Dame crowd at Yankee Stadium that will give them a champion’s welcome. These people will be surprised when they see that this is not the Army team from 2006 that went out to South Bend on Notre Dame’s senior day to be the butt of the joke.
This Army team has already faced offense with more weapons than the Irish, such as the Hawaii team that the Black Knights had on the ropes after coming behind from a three-touchdown deficit. For Notre Dame, a freshman quarterback behind a shaky offensive line against a unique defense that boasts one of the top pass rushers in the country? I know who I would put my money on.
Make no mistake; the better team on the Yankee Stadium field Saturday night will be sporting gold helmets. The ones with the black stripe down the middle.
Player(s) to Watch: QB Trent Steelman, FB Jared Hassin. These two will be counted on to carry the Army offense on Saturday. It won’t always be pretty as Notre Dame will have an edge in size along the front line. Honestly, Army played a more athletically gifted defense in Temple and was able to put up 35 points. Expect Notre Dame to try a different approach than the one they took against Navy. Army will have to grind this one out, but that’s what they have been able to do on offense all season.
Potential X-Factor: DE Josh McNary. McNary has been very quiet lately, with no sacks since the overtime loss to Rutgers. On the big stage this weekend, look for him to step up and create some havoc.
Prediction: I think it helps that this game doesn’t have Army’s bowl implications riding on it. There is no added pressure for the team, and they can go into Yankee Stadium loose and hopefully we see them take some chances to make big plays offensively. Army wins.
Army 23, Notre Dame 13
About the Author
Written by Donald Lappe
Senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Double Major in Media & Society and United States History. Also writing for TapouT Magazine and MMA Worldwide Magazine.