Coming off of what was only a five-point victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers at home after stringing together impressive performances in the three weeks prior to the game against the Panthers, last week’s bye was much needed for the undefeated Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. They needed to shore up some things on both sides of the ball as well as get ready to prepare for the always challenging triple-option that the Navy Midshipmen present them with each and every year.
Overall, Notre Dame looked ready to play and did not let their shaky performance against Pittsburgh have a negative impact on their 44-22 win over Navy, which was very good to see if you are a Fighting Irish fan. One aspect of the game that was very pleasing was Notre Dame’s ability to run the ball all night long. Whether it was Dexter Williams, Jafar Armstrong, Ian Book, or Tony Jones Jr., Notre Dame found success. As a team, they carried the ball 43 times for 254 yards and four touchdowns.
As they continue on their quest to the College Football Playoff, being able to run the ball will be vital. If Notre Dame can continue to consistently run the ball effectively then that will open up the passing game for Ian Book and allow him to deliver the ball to the group of talented wide receivers and tight ends that he has at his disposal.
Looking ahead, the schedule does not get any easier for Brian Kelly’s team. They travel to Evanston, Illinois, to take on the 5-3 Northwestern Wildcats at 6:15 PM CT at Ryan Field. After beginning the season with a record of 1-3, Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats have found their rhythm, winning four straight games overall.
Following the Northwestern game, Notre Dame returns home to Notre Dame Stadium one final time this season as they host the Florida State Seminoles in a primetime showdown. Then, they travel to New York to take on the Syracuse Orange before eventually wrapping up the regular season with a matchup with the USC Trojans in Los Angeles.
Not only will Notre Dame be facing teams that want to prove to the country they can compete with a top-tier team, but they will also come into the game against Notre Dame wanting to spoil their chance at a bid in the College Football Playoff.
Along with the matchups themselves, the amount of traveling that Notre Dame had to do for the Navy game as well as has to do in their final four games of the regular season will without a doubt be difficult for a team trying to approach every week with the same mindset.
Although the Fighting Irish face tough tests down the road on the field as well as have to travel long distances off it, the focus has remained consistent enough to where I believe the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be one of the four teams selected in this year’s College Football Playoff.
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