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?