Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Navy Midshipmen (+15, 52.5)
After a tumultuous off-season for Brian Kelly – with player suspensions, injuries, transfers and arrests – the Notre Dame coach will be happy to get to work and finally land in Dublin, Ireland, for Saturday's season opener between Notre Dame and Navy at Aviva Stadium.
Kelly’s team will make the trip missing almost a dozen players since the 2012 spring football season began in March. Most notably, Notre Dame will be without two important offensive starters from last season – quarterback Tommy Rees and running back Cierre Wood – both of which were suspended for the Navy game after violating team rules.
The timing of the player shortage becomes of greater concern for Notre Dame because Navy has been an ornery opponent in recent years with three upset wins over the Irish in the last five meetings – the first of which came in 2007 that broke an NCAA-record 43-game winning streak in the series that ran from 1964 to 2006. After eight straight appearances in a bowl game, the Midshipmen saw their postseason streak end last season, in part because they lost five games by a total of 11 points.TV:
9 a.m., ET, CBS. LINE:
Notre Dame opened as high as -17 but has been bet down in the days before kickoff. The total has also tumbled, going from 55 to 52.5 points.ABOUT NOTRE DAME (2011: 8-5):
The option offense Navy operates is always difficult to defend. But with Notre Dame’s experienced front seven considered one of the stronger points of the team, and after having the entire training camp to prepare for Navy’s unique offensive system, the Irish coaches feel well prepared.
ABOUT NAVY (2011: 5-7):
Junior quarterback Trey Miller takes over the Navy offense after playing sparingly in seven appearances last season. Miller made one start in 2011, ironically, against Notre Dame because of an injury to starter Kriss Proctor. The good news is Navy returns three starters on the offensive line to help open holes in the option game.TRENDS:
* Fighting Irish are 6-2 ATS in their last eight meetings in Navy.
* Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
* Road team is 14-3 ATS in their last 17 meetings.EXTRA POINTS:
1. After losing to Navy 35-17 in 2010 – a second straight loss to the Midshipmen – Notre Dame rebounded with an impressive 56-14 victory last season, it’s biggest blowout in 2011.
2. With 85 meetings dating back to 1927, Notre Dame has played Navy more than any other opponent, but this is the first time the two teams will meet in a season opener. The Irish lead the series 72-12-1.
3. Perhaps Irish punter Ben Turk can stay home because in the last seven meetings, Notre Dame has punted five times.