Navy vs. Notre Dame: Expert Pick and Prediction – August 26, 2023
NAVY VS. NOTRE DAME: EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – August 26, 2023 — A strange offseason leads to a unique matchup, as Navy crosses the Atlantic to open the season against Notre Dame. This marks the third time in the rivalry’s history that the Fighting Irish and the Midshipmen have met in Ireland, and the first two meetings were anything but close.
In each previous meeting, Notre Dame topped 50 points and won by 27 points or more.
And that’s before throwing in that Navy’s offseason was bizarre to say the least. The Mids opted to part ways with longtime coach Ken Niumatalolo after 15 seasons, claiming a new voice was needed.
But that “new” voice is Niumatalolo’s defensive coordinator, Brian Newberry. Navy’s defense has been a strength under Newberry, but it’s hard to see how moving him up will yield different results than Niumatalolo achieved.
Their first test comes against a Notre Dame squad that’s anxious for an offense that can do more than last year. The Fighting Irish’s big problem last season was that the quarterback play was subpar at best, leading to them bringing in Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman to run the offense.
If he’s on the same page with his playmakers, the Irish will be tough to stop. But quick starts are not a hallmark of Notre Dame football: the Irish have failed to cover in three straight season openers as a favorite
- When: Saturday, August 26th at 2:30 pm EST
- Where: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
- TV: NBC
- Public Bets: 66% on Notre Dame
- Public Money: 58% on Notre Dame
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, correct as of August 20th, 2023.
Navy vs. Notre Dame In-Season Trends
Backing the points has been a great way to make money on this matchup, especially on the Irish side. Over the past 12 meetings, the OVER has cashed nine times, and Notre Dame has scored 30 or more points nine times and four years running. Only one Irish win (2017) has seen Notre Dame held to less than 34 points against Navy, and both were over teams last year anyway.
Over the final seven games of the season for the Irish, the OVER cashed every time and did so six times in eight games for Navy. The Mids have also covered well as of late, but that only happened in conference games. Outside the league, Navy’s just 3-8 ATS in its past 11.
65 degrees and rain is both classic Midwest weather and a common occurrence in Ireland. It might make passing difficult, given that rain is expected all week, but that should be the only impact on the game.
Audric Estime should put up big numbers on the ground for Notre Dame, but the key to the season is Hartman. As Navy isn’t likely to threaten to win, Notre Dame could choose to use this game to make sure Hartman and his targets are on the same page. Then again, the Irish also have a game next week against Tennessee State, which could be used as a preseason game.
Navy’s offense will flow through running back Daba Fofana (pictured below), who gained 819 yards per and was the main cog in Navy’s triple option. The game conditions give Navy some hope, as it’s likely to favor their style of play in the rain. In addition to keeping the chains moving, Navy also has to keep Notre Dame’s offense off the field as much as possible to win this matchup.
It’s hard to be supremely confident in Notre Dame, given that the Irish haven’t covered in three straight season openers as a favorite. But those were against power conference foes, and two of them were true road games (the exception was a 14-point win over Duke in 2020). Navy should be a much more manageable foe, and the Mids haven’t managed to even slow down Notre Dame for the past several seasons.
I expect the Irish to do most of the scoring against a Navy side that should be better than last season but has a long way to go. I’m backing the Irish.
- Notre Dame -20.5
- Over 50.5