Fighting Irish, Midshipmen Tangle In Ireland

By: Michael Robinson | Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be playing shorthanded when they meet the Navy Midshipmen in an matchup of FBS Independents on Saturday.

The classic rivalry will get underway at a very early 9:00 a.m. (ET) from Dublin, Ireland. CBS will have the broadcast and it should be a heavily favored Irish crowd for the dubbed Emerald Isle Classic.

The Don Best Pro Odds screen has the Fighting Irish as 15½-point favorites with a total of 55. They’re ranked No. 24 in the Coaches Poll and just outside the AP top-25. The heavily-anticipated Don Best Linemakers Poll has started them off at No. 20.

Notre Dame will be without two big-name offensive players, quarterback Tommy Rees and running back Cierre Wood. The former was suspended just for this contest after pleading guilty to an offseason misdemeanor charge from an alcohol arrest.  Wood is out the first two games after a violation of team rules.

Even a Notre Dame broadcaster was suspended Saturday as former player Allen Pinkett said the team needed more ‘criminals’ to compete, deemed inappropriate by school officials.

Coach Brian Kelly will miss his players, but he’s running out of excuses in his third year at the Notre Dame helm. He went 8-5 straight up in each of his first two years, a far cry from the 34-6 SU in his previous stint with Cincinnati.

Kelly has named quarterback Everett Golson his starter. He is a redshirt sophomore who didn’t take a real snap last season. Golson is listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, but he’s got a very good arm and athletic ability.

Senior Theo Riddick rushed for just 63 yards last season, but he’s the likely replacement for the celebrated junior Wood (1,102 yards last year).

The Irish defense returns seven starters from a group ranked 30th in the country in 2011 (344.7 YPG). However, cornerback is an issue after expected new starter Lo Wood was just lost for the year with an Achilles injury.

Navy finished a disappointing 5-7 SU (6-6 ATS) last year after three winning seasons under coach Ken Niumatalolo. Five of the seven losses came by three points or less, so a quick turnaround is a real possibility.

The Midshipmen run the triple-option offense which is why they were fourth nationally in rushing (312.3 YPG) and 119th in passing (85.8 YPG). Junior Trey Miller is the quarterback after seeing action in seven games last year. He threw just 29 total passes and rushed for 150 yards on 41 carries (3.1 ypc).

Miller is reportedly a better passer than the departed Kriss Proctor and the team should throw a bit more eventually. This game might not be a good time to start with receivers Brandon Turner (suspended) and Matt Aiken (knee) both out.

Gee Gee Greene has a great name and is the leading returner rushing with 501 yards (7.8 ypc).

The Navy defense returns five starters, but got hit hard on the defensive line and has to be happy not to see Wood coming at them.

Navy has more than held its own in this rivalry recently, winning three of the last five years, although Notre Dame won 56-14 last October as 23½-point home favorites.

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