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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)
Although several players were off with byes this weekend, a few former Irish football players performed well in Sunday's NFL action. In his Oakland debut, Chinedum Ndukwe ('07) made two solo tackles and intercepted a Kansas City pass on the final play of the first half, but the Raiders lost to the Chiefs, 28-0. The former Irish safety signed with the Raiders on Oct. 18. Green Bay improved to 7-0 with a 33-27 win in Minnesota. Ryan Grant ('05) had nine carries for 29 yards for the Packers. On the scoreboard, Sunday's game between Seattle and Cleveland looked more like Mariners vs. Indians baseball game than a Seahawks vs. Browns football bout. The Browns won 6-3. Golden Tate had one catch for 11 yards for the Seahawks, who dropped to 2-4. David Bruton ('09) had one solo tackle in Denver's 18-15 comeback win at Miami. Anthony Fasano ('06) caught two passes, including a 16-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for the Dolphins. Baltimore takes on Jacksonville in tonight's Monday Night Football action, but Tom Zbikowski ('07) is listed as doubtful for the Ravens. - Josh Flynt ('11)
AL.com - A group of University of Notre Dame student-athletes and administrators wrapped up a week of volunteering in tornado relief Thursday on a fall break service trip organized by Notre Dame and the University of Alabama. The trip, called Fight for Tide, brought 24 students and six administrators to Tuscaloosa to work in collaboration with Project Team Up, an initiative to rebuild communities partnered with Nick Saban's foundation Nick's Kids. Students representing the Notre Dame baseball, cross country, cheerleading, fencing, men's golf, women's lacrosse, rowing and track and field teams were selected for the trip based on essays they wrote. Sarah Smith, program coordinator for student athlete welfare and development at Notre Dame, said the idea to help Tuscaloosa began with a former Notre Dame employee who currently works in the ticket office at Alabama. He emailed the athletics office at Notre Dame and asked them to collect relief supplies that Alabama would pay to ship. Smith, who is originally from a town an hour away from Joplin, Missouri, began to come up with an idea of a service trip when students started talking over the summer about going to down to Tuscaloosa to help. "I just kind of ran with the idea and started calling people to see if it would be a possibility, and people started wanting to support it and make it happen," Smith said. After arriving Saturday, the group has worked at two sites in Alberta City, clearing storm debris on lots where new houses are planned to be built. They also met with Alabama athletics director Mal Moore and went on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium, had dinner with Notre Dame's Alabama alumni club at Dreamland, attended Mass with students at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish on the Alabama campus and toured the baseball and softball facilities. On Thursday, at a site just off University Boulevard on 21st Avenue East, Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy and several players joined the group from Notre Dame in clearing debris from destroyed houses and carrying limbs to the street. Notre Dame baseball player Tommy Chase said the experience changed his perspective on the important things in life. "I look at this as a great opportunity to help where there's a need," Chase said. "We get caught up at school doing a lot things for ourselves, whether it's in sports or in the classroom. Those are all great things, but it's revolved around our own needs and goals. Being able to come down here and help others is really important for my own personal development, but also I want to hopefully inspire this community in some way." Notre Dame sophomore cheerleader Erin Garfield took time away from her team to travel to Tuscaloosa because the fall break gave her time to join the service trip. On Saturday night, she'll be cheering on the sidelines as the Irish face USC in South Bend. "It's just been a great experience all around, hearing all these stories from people who experienced the tornado and getting to meet all these amazing people, Garfield said. Alabama sophomore softball player Ryan Iamurri said she was glad to share the experience of volunteering in Alberta City with the students from Notre Dame. "When you live here, you kind of get back in your normal routine, and if you don't cross this bridge (to Alberta), you forget what it's like," Iamurri said."It was so nice of them because we realize there's still so much more to do. To come out here with them is special."