The Notre Dame-Navy rivalry is one of deep-seated tradition that admittedly has long been incredibly one-sided in regards to the results on the field. Played annually since 1927, the matchup is the longest running intersectional rivalry in college football. And before Navy's stunning 46-44 overtime win in the nightmarish season of 2007, Notre Dame had accumulated a 43-game winning streak in the series.
Tradition is an ingrained part of college football and must be maintained, especially at a place as steeped in it as Notre Dame. And the fact that this rivalry possesses such a long lineage justifies it somewhat more than say, the University of Michigan playing Delaware State last weekend. Needless to say, despite the history and ceremony involved, the game has become largely inconsequential in the seasons of either schools due to the accepted massive imbalance in competitiveness.
The 2009 matchup between these teams is not about to make the Navy football program feel much better about their abilites relative to those of their annual opponent. Before Michael Floyd went down with a broken collarbone in Notre Dame's third game against the Michigan State Spartans, the 6'3 sophomore had 13 catches for 358 yards and five touchdowns. Early in the season Floyd established himself as Clausen's number one target, but after the injury adjustments had to be made.
Golden Tate — who was already producing a great season playing opposite Floyd — took his game to an even higher level when the team desperately needed an offensive star for Clausen to connect with. The one consistently dynamic force (not named Clausen), on an inconsistent yet highly talented team, Tate has become arguably the best receiver in the country, posting 927 yards and nine touchdowns this season. With Tate as the one premium target in the receiving corps (aside from the under-used TE Kyle Rudolph) the Irish offensive has been nothing short of astounding in their efficiency. And guess who's coming back?
This Saturday, when the Irish defend their home field in South Bend against the Midshipmen, they will, for the first time since the early stages of Week 3, feature both Floyd and Tate on the field with Heisman candidate Casey Clausen feeding them the ball.
This is not to say that Clausen's other weapons haven't performed as the offense (and especially the passing game) has been the least of the team's problem's this season. But regardless, it should be an outright spectacle to see arguably the best one/two receiver combo in the nation reign in bombs launched by their star quarterback Clausen, espcially after Floyd is fully back into the flow.
Not only does he provide Jimmy with another deap threat but most importantly he gives the Irish QB another over-sized option in the redzone, an area in which Notre Dame has struggled in both their loses and their wins.
While the Navy game obviously does not illustrate the most accurate representation of the Irish's offensive potential (with Navy coming off of a 27-24 loss to Temple and Floyd's inevitable rust), this game should provide a good tune-up opportunity for Michael to assimilate himself back into the offensive flow.
In any case, expect a lot of points to be scored by the Irish through the air as Clausen is undoubtedly ecstatic to finally play with the full weaponry that his coach recruited.
Even if Floyd serves only as a decoy, he will accelerate the production of an already unbelievable offense. And yet, if No. 3 is out there, everyone knows a few balls will be coming his way. While Floyds return will provide the boost the Irish need to get through the rest of the season with their fragile dignity in tact, possibly even garnering a major bowl birth, it will also show a truer climpse (that the first couple games) of just how dynamic the duo of Tate and Floyd could be with a senior Jimmy Clausen leading the way.Powered by Sidelines