Notre Dame vs. Navy NCAAF Week 11 Pick and Prediction: Just Keep Running It, Irish

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Head coach Marcus Freeman of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates with Benjamin Morrison #20 after a interception against the Clemson Tigers. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP.

Top-rated sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for this week’s college football action. One game worth investing in is Notre Dame vs. Navy.

The Fighting Irish are coming off a monumental blowout against previously undefeated Clemson.

Meanwhile, Navy is coming off its sixth loss of the season, a 20-10 loss in Cincinnati.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game at an Online Sports Betting Site.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Navy Midshipmen

Saturday, November 12, 2022 – 12:00 PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium

Thinking About Notre Dame

Reality is more complicated than transitive property logic suggests. What I mean is: it's tempting to say, simply, that Notre Dame will surely cover the 2.5-touchdown spread against Navy because the Fighting Irish beat Clemson by three touchdowns.

But there is an endless number of counterexamples, which demonstrate the uselessness of transitive property logic.

In order to determine whether we should invest in Notre Dame to cover the spread, we have to answer the following question, which is highly relevant to pose: How did Notre Dame beat Clemson, by 21 points, no less, but lose to Marshall and Stanford?

This question is relevant because one could have reason to think that the Fighting Irish are a high-ceiling team, a squad that can upset the likes of Clemson, but also a low-floor team, one that fails to take lower-profile opponents seriously or for other reasons tends to suffer disappointment against heavy underdogs.

Finding an Identity 

Under a new coaching staff, the Fighting Irish needed to develop an identity.

The problem that was visible in their losses to Marshall and Stanford was that they lacked a sense of who they are, of what sort of team they want to be.

This is evident in their play-calling, specifically in their run-pass ratio. Against Marshall, their offense called a very even number of run and pass plays. 

They passed 38 times and ran 37 times. When they played Stanford, they leaned a bit more toward running the ball, as they called 27 pass plays and 34 run plays.

A Run-First Team

But since that loss to Stanford, they grew invested in running the ball. Against UNLV, Notre Dame ran 47 times while passing 28 times.

They then called 56 run plays against Syracuse as opposed to 19 pass plays. Most recently, they rushed 47 times and passed 17 times.

In their last three games, the Fighting Irish have called run plays with 69.44% frequency. If this were a season-long statistic, then they would own the nation's fourth-highest run-play percentage.

Taking Navy Seriously 

Specifically, Notre Dame's 23-point win over UNLV shows that the Fighting Irish take all of their opponents seriously, regardless of how heavily underdogged they are.

With their smashmouth brand of football, this year's Fighting Irish resemble the 2017 version of themselves that could simply hand the ball off continually in order to run over opponents.

Notre Dame is a physically superior squad that takes pride in bullying its opponents. One can expect around 20 carries from both Logan Diggs and Audric Estime.

This season, Diggs averages 4.9 YPC while Estime averages 5.7. The latter also enjoys a nose for the end zone, accruing 9 rushing touchdowns so far. Navy's run defense hasn't encountered any team like Notre Dame. The talent disparity is immense.

Defending against Navy's Option Attack 

Navy employs a unique style of offense that requires a special level of understanding to prepare for. Irish head coach Marcus Freeman knows this. In 2017, his first year at Cincinnati, his defense allowed 42 points to Navy.

But Freeman figured out how to defend against the triple-option attack employed by the military academies.

In 2018, his Bearcats shut out Navy while limiting Navy to 124 rushing yards. Most recently, his Cincinnati team faced Army in 2020. Army mustered 10 points.

Coaching many guys who are already used to facing and shutting down Navy every year, Freeman will have Notre Dame's defense prepared.


The Verdict 

With your NCAAF Picks, expect Notre Dame's offense to do what it likes to do most, which is run the ball. On offense, the Fighting Irish will continue to bully their opponents.

In other words, I like Notre Dame to score enough to cover the spread not simply because they beat Clemson but because of the way in which they blew out UNLV, Syracuse, and Clemson.

Defensively, the Fighting Irish are well-prepared to stop Navy's distinctive style of offense.

NCAAF Pick: Notre Dame -17 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Notre Dame -17 (-108)
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