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    Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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    Though the rivalry with USC is perhaps Notre Dame's most storied, the University's history with Navy may be most important.

    At Notre Dame, there is a deep sense of admiration and reverence for the dedication of the men and women in the armed forces. The mantra "God, Country, Notre Dame" is inscribed above the east door of the Basilica and it might as well be the unofficial motto of the students and alumni. That short phrase is also the title of President Emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh's autobiography.

    During World War II, the Navy established a Navy College Training Program on Notre Dame's campus, a decision that, according to Father Hesburgh, may have helped save the University. It boosted Notre Dame's economic status and enrollment, saving the university from decline, amidst the ongoing war.

    Since the days of the officer-training program, Notre Dame's relationship with the U.S. Naval Academy has only grown stronger. The Navy ROTC unit is currently the largest on campus, and considered one of the top NROTC programs in the country.

    On Saturday, Notre Dame and Navy will meet for the 85th consecutive year on the football field. Playing every season since 1927, not only is this matchup the longest-running intersectional series in college football, it is also the longest in Notre Dame's 125-year football history. In the previous meetings, 53 games have been played at neutral sites and 31 in Notre Dame Stadium. Neutral site contests have been held in several cities, including Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia and East Rutherford, N.J., because Navy's home stadium in Annapolis, Md., have not been large enough.

    Though the Irish hold a 71-12-1 advantage in the series, the Midshipmen have taken three out of the last four meetings, including two in South Bend. In 2007, head coach Paul Johnson's team shocked the Irish, 46-44 in triple overtime.

    Previously, Notre Dame had won 43 straight against Navy, the longest such streak by one team over another in FBS history. Notre Dame had not lost to the Midshipmen since 1963, when future NFL Hall of Famer Roger Staubach was quarterbacking their offense.

    Next September, the Irish and Midshipmen will open the 2012 season oversees. On Sept. 1, the teams will meet in the Emerald Isle Classic at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. It will be the second time Notre Dame and Navy play in Ireland.

    Saturday's game against Navy will have extra importance for Notre Dame. The Irish have dropped two in a row to head coach Ken Niumatalolo's team, and are seeking to right the ship after a difficult loss to USC this past weekend.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

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