Navy won the coin toss and elected to defer. The Irish will receive and the Midshipmen will defend the East end zone.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE UNUSUAL AGAINST NAVY
If history from the Notre Dame-Navy series was any indication, the blocked punt for touchdown by Notre Dame's Toryan Smith was not surprising. In seven of the past 13 meetings between the Irish and Navy, one of the two teams has scored at least one touchdown on defense or special teams.
Notre Dame was forced to punt against Navy for the first time since the 2004 meeting. The Irish had gone 247 plays against Navy without being forced to punt - dating back to a D.J. Fitzpatrick punt in the fourth quarter of the 27-9 Irish victory in 2004. The Irish ran 17 plays over three drives in today's game, 90 plays over nine drives in 2007, 62 plays over 10 drive in the 2006 and 70 plays over nine drives in 2005.
IRISH ON THE GROUND
Notre Dame completed dominated the game on the ground this afternoon. The Irish not only outrushed the Middies, 230-178, but also earned 15 first downs on the ground to Navy's six.
Notre Dame's 51 rushes were a season-high and the 230 yards on the ground were the second-most this season.
The Irish rushed the ball the final 12 plays of the game and 26 of the final 29 plays for Notre Dame were on the ground.
NOTRE DAME KEPT NAVY OFF THE FIELD
The Irish won the time of possession battle against Navy this afternoon 35:33 to 24:27. It is the smallest amount of time of possession for the Middies since Oct. 22, 2005 against Rice when they managed just 22:20.
IRISH ON DEFENSE
Notre Dame forced Navy into a three-out on its opening possession of the game. The Midshipmen had scored on their opening drive in each of their first nine games this season.
The Irish limited Navy to just one first down in the first quarter and 21 total yards on 12 plays. Navy had 21 yards on nine rushes and failed to complete a pass on three attempts.
Navy did not register a first down (without benefit of penalty) until the 8:20 mark of the second quarter.
Notre Dame did not allow Navy a rushing first down until the Midshipmen's final drive of the opening half.
The Midshipmen entered today's game averaging 308.00 yards per game on the ground. Navy managed just 97 yards on the ground on 22 carries in the first half. In fact, 37 of those 97 yards came on two carries - a 15-yard rumble from fullback Eric Kettani and 22-yard touchdown run from Cory Finnerty.
The Irish defense came out of the halftime lockeroom and dominated the Midshipmen in the third quarter. Notre Dame limited the Middies to just 33 total yards on 11 plays and only one first down. All 11 plays were rushes.
In the first and third quarters combined this afternoon, Notre Dame limited the Midshipmen to just a pair of first downs and one came on an Irish defensive penalty.
Notre Dame held Navy to just 178 yards rushing on the day. It is the fewest rushing yards by the Midshipmen since Rutgers allowed just 113 on Oct. 14, 2006.
The Irish held Navy to just 1-for-13 on third down. The Middies' only third down conversion came on their final drive of the game.
Notre Dame forced Navy into nine punts this afternoon. Their previous single-game high from this year was six against Wake Forest on Sept. 27. The nine punts were the most by the Midshipmen since they punted 11 times against Rutgers on Oct. 14, 2006.
Notre Dame allowed just 242 total yards this afternoon. It marks the second straight game the Irish have allowed under 250 yards of total offense. In fact, Notre Dame has allowed less than 250 yards of total offense in three of its last four games.
Navy's 242 total yards are the fewest for the Midshipmen since that Rutgers game of 2006.
Today's game was sold out (70,932). It is the 70th sellout in the last 77 road games for the Irish. The only non-sellouts include the 2001-07 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy (The Meadowlands), the 2005 game at Washington and the 2006 game at Air Force.
Notre Dame has now played in front of sellout crowds in 211 of its previous 242 games, including 86 of its last 94 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season (the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands, the 2005 game at Washington and the 2007 game at UCLA were not sellouts).
Notre Dame's turnover difficulties continued in today's opening half against Navy. The Irish turned it over on their first two drives of the afternoon (interception and a fumble) and then again (interception) on its second-to-last drive of the first half.
The Irish did, however, force a turnover late in the second quarter that set up the go-ahead Notre Dame field goal. It was the first forced turnover for Notre Dame on the road since the Michigan State game earlier in the season (a span of 15 quarters).
Notre Dame added a fourth turnover deep in Navy territory with 4:54 to go in the game.
The Irish now have a minus-16 turnover margin in their five games away from Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame has forced two turnovers (Michigan State, Navy), while the Irish have committed 18 turnovers along the way, including a pair of five turnover games (Boston College and North Carolina).
The Irish were minus-five in turnover margin against Boston College, which was the identical spread Notre Dame found itself against North Carolina earlier this season. Notre Dame has registered a minus-five effort in the turnover department just three times since the start of the 2002 season and two have come in the last four games.
With his third catch this evening, Allen moved into third place on the Notre Dame single-season receptions list for running backs with 38. He also moved into fifth place on the Irish career list in the same category with 62.
Recorded his third rushing touchdown and fourth overall touchdown of the season to give Notre Dame a 17-7 lead early in the third quarter.
Recorded a 19-yard rush on the game's first play from scrimmage - his longest carry of the season. It was tied for the fourth longest run of the year for a Notre Dame running back (Armando Allen has three separate 21-yard rushes and Jonas Gray had a 19-yard run against Washington).
With his 12th passing yard this evening, Clausen moved into 10th place on the Irish career passing yards list with 3,595.
With his 68th passing yard this evening, Clausen moved into ninth place on the Irish career passing yards list with 3,651.
With his 95th yard of total offense this evening, Clausen moved into sixth place on the Irish single-season total yards list with 2,424.
Maurice Crum, Jr., Sr., LB
His 45 career starts are tied with OT Ryan Harris (2003-06) for the third most on record in Notre Dame history. SS Tom Zbikowski (2004-07) heads the list with 48 career starts, followed by QB Brady Quinn (2003-06) with 46.
With his sixth tackle this evening, Crum, Jr. moved into 10th place on the Irish career tackles list with 296.
With his seventh tackle this evening, Crum, Jr. moved into a tie for ninth place (Brandon Hoyte, 2002-05) on the Irish career tackles list with 297.