No. 20 Notre Dame vs Navy today: TV, Time, Preview & Predictions


Next season, this game will almost certainly feature a higher-ranked Notre Dame, but that will not be the reason fans are overly excited to face Navy. Rather, a trip to Dublin (Aug. 26, 2023), though technically considered an Irish home game — actually, that will be more fitting than that trip typically masquerading as a Midshipmen jaunt — will dial up the novelty.

No such exotic location will entice crowds today, no disrespect to Baltimore. No. 20 Notre Dame (6-3) did not arrive in the Charm City early enough to take an extensive tour of The Wire locations, so the trip to M&T Bank Stadium really is just a business trip.

Well, as much of a business trip as can be had when playing the Naval Academy (3-6) the day after Veterans Day. Some pomp and circumstance will be appropriate and should be expected anytime the Midshipmen put on an event.

TIME: 12:00 ET. It was rare two weeks ago to have Notre Dame play a road game short of primetime, let alone as early as lunchtime. The Irish playing two straight road games at the noon hour has not happened since halfway through the 2016 season, then taking a 1-3 record to New Jersey against Syracuse, winning 50-23 there before losing a week later in a literal hurricane at North Carolina State.

That 2016 is the applicable reference point underscores how disappointing the start of Notre Dame’s 2022 was. This kickoff time was not determined until two weeks after the Irish lost to Stanford to fall to 3-3, but that Cardinal defeat removed enough luster from Irish football for the foreseeable future as to warrant a network moving Notre Dame to a noon kickoff, keeping Nebraska at No. 3 Michigan in the 3:30 ET slot.

TV: ABC will broadcast this annual meeting, with Dave Flemming on play-by-play, Dan Orlovsky as the analyst and Kris Budden working as the sideline reporter. If needing to watch from a mobile device, the Watch ESPN app should provide the broadcast.

Any stubborn critics of Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees should be forewarned, Orlovsky’s film study this week revealed multiple moments of praise of how Rees has manufactured production recently.

PREVIEW: In 94 meetings, Navy has won just 13 of them, including only four since 1963 and one since 2011. The military academies lean into the triple-option for a reason: They know they suffer from a talent disadvantage.

Consider the Team Talent Composite curated by 247 Sports. Focusing mainly on the last four years of recruiting rankings, Notre Dame ranks No. 10 in the country in the talent composite. Presumably, because Annapolis admittance procedures mess with the usual recruiting timeline and protocols, Navy does not rank on the composite, but looking at American Athletic Conference team rankings in the last four cycles, the Midshipmen ranked No. 11 of 11 teams in every year except 2021, when they came in No. 9.

Navy’s talent issues have taken on a greater extreme in the modern times of immediate eligibility after transferring and added years of eligibility thanks to the universal pandemic eligibility waiver. Perhaps the roster has not been actively ravaged in the last year or two — a la Stanford’s or Northwestern’s, looking at you Irish safety Brandon Joseph, though he will most likely miss this weekend with a sprained ankle — but it has also not constantly improved as nearly every other team tries to.

Logically, that makes the Midshipmen reliance on the triple-option not only all the more understandable but also that much more necessary. Yet, the NCAA outlawed cut blocks outside the tackle box this season, not inherently a requirement of the triple-option but a technique within the option that further serves to mitigate the talent gap Navy faces. Without those blocks, Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo has noticed second-level defenders ease through the traffic that used to chop them down.

For the better part of a decade, Navy has relied on elite quarterback play in its best seasons. Finishing 11-2 in 2015 and 2019 was not a coincidence; those were the last seasons of Keenan Reynolds and Malcolm Perry, respectively.

The Midshipmen did not think they had a quarterback of that level this year in Tai Lavatai, but losing him to injury for the season a couple weeks ago cost them the one edge they did have offensively.

Add all that up — an inherent talent disadvantage made worse by the developments of immediate transfer eligibility and the universal pandemic eligibility waiver, an offensive scheme designed to compensate for that declawed by NCAA edict and then effectively neutered by injury to its most crucial player — and Navy’s season may be spiraling toward a 3-9 reality heading into the Army-Navy game on Dec. 10.

PREDICTION: Irish head coach Marcus Freeman has been burned by Navy before. The first time he ran into the Midshipmen as a defensive coordinator, Cincinnati gave up 569 rushing yards. When discussing that debacle, Freeman’s tone echoes how he speaks of blowing a three-touchdown lead in the second half of the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State in his first game as a head coach.

It won’t happen again. That’s the tone.

And it hasn’t. Freeman’s defenses have given up a total of 290 rushing yards on 107 carries in two meetings since then. Those 2.7 yards per rush attempt garnered all of six points, a pair of field goals last season in a 34-6 loss in South Bend.

Assuming Notre Dame will cover a spread that has returned to 17 points, as of Saturday’s earliest hours, after spending most of the week at -15.5, is a bold assumption. The Irish are coming off a season-redefining win and now they face the most maddening offensive approach in college football. But Freeman’s defensive approach — one now buttressed by veteran defensive coordinator Al Golden and his decade of head-coaching experience against triple-option offenses — and the underlying, deep-set motivation to keep Navy from burning him again should be reason enough to trust Notre Dame.

This prediction focuses on the Irish defense because the only thing that has limited Notre Dame’s offense against Navy in the last decade has been defensive capitulation. The Irish managed just 24 points in 2017 because they gave up 277 rushing yards on 72 carries, allowing the Midshipmen to hold onto the ball for nearly 43 minutes. Notre Dame scored only 27 in a loss in 2016, undone by giving up 320 yards on 56 rushes, a 5.7 yards per carry average.

If the Irish defense can shut down Navy’s offense, lacking Lavatai, then the offensive points will come, though probably not enough to single-handedly top a combined points total Over/Under of 40.

Notre Dame 31, Navy 3
(Spread: 2-7; Over/Under: 3-6; Straight-up: 5-4)

Two years apart, two field stormings with nothing in common aside from Notre Dame’s cause
And In That Corner … Down a QB and with blocking rules hampering it, Navy’s triple-option awaits Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s Opponents: Navy’s blocking woes, Boston College’s backup QB and USC’s turnover reliance
Things To Learn: Revived season should include Notre Dame cruising vs Navy

New cut blocking rules have hurt Navy’s ability to execute the triple-option
Inside Michael Mayer’s message-sending TD vs. Clemson: ‘Are we passing it right now?’
Prince Kollie keeps a special veteran in mind this weekend
Notre Dame vs Navy odds, picks and predictions: Fighting Irish take over early
Navy football almost pulled off remarkable comeback in last meeting with Notre Dame at M&T Bank Stadium
Diabetes never became an obstacle for Irish legacy Ron Powlus III
Safety DJ Brown preparing for homecoming and an unconventional offense
2024 OH CB Karson Hobbs commits to Notre Dame
Conference USA’s new media deal includes heavy midweek slate

Drew Pyne to transfer from Notre Dame; Tyler Buchner reportedly a bowl possibility


Notre Dame may start its third quarterback of the season in its bowl game after junior Drew Pyne announced he will transfer from the program on Friday. A graduate, Pyne has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel first reported Pyne’s intention to transfer, with Pyne soon thereafter taking to Twitter to confirm as much.

“One of my proudest honors is to have been a student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame,” Pyne wrote. “… It’s time for me to take on a new challenge, and I will be entering the transfer portal.”

Pyne took over as the Irish starter after sophomore Tyler Buchner suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the second week of the season. Pyne went 8-2 as a starter, completing 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,021 yards and 22 touchdowns this season.

His final action at Notre Dame may have been Pyne’s best game of his career, throwing for 318 yards and three touchdowns at USC while completing 23 of 26 passes, the second-most accurate game in Irish history.

He appeared in two games in 2021, stepping in for Jack Coan when he struggled against Wisconsin and Cincinnati. Keeping Pyne to minimal appearances in 2021 was intentional, preserving a season of eligibility for him.

That eligibility will now be used elsewhere.

Without Pyne, Notre Dame will have freshman Steve Angeli and possibly Buchner available in the bowl game, a location and opponent to be announced on Sunday. Football Scoop’s John Brice reported Friday afternoon that Buchner will play in the bowl game, though perhaps that optimism should be measured throughout practice this month.

Regardless, the Irish are expected to pursue an incoming transfer quarterback this month. With names like Texas’ Hudson Card and Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong already in the transfer portal, Notre Dame will have a few options to chase.

That is why Pyne’s transfer makes sense, even if he spoke earnestly about the bowl game following that 38-27 loss in Los Angeles.

“I think we have a lot to play for,” he said. “We’re going to be in a bowl game, I want to send all the seniors out the right way. We have a lot to play for. We have another game, I’m going to prepare as hard as I can for that and finish the season off on a positive note.”

Reversing course from those words is understandable given they came minutes after a competitive game, and the last week has shown Pyne how quickly the quarterback transfer market will move.

In the game of musical chairs that is quarterbacks moving across the country, Pyne waiting until after the bowl game to transfer could serve only to leave him with fewer destinations as options. Not that Pyne may have been looking at Iowa, but the fact that one Power Five starting gig appears to have already been filled by Michigan transfer Cade McNamara presumably underscored the rapid nature of this process.

Understandably, Pyne needs to make the most of this opportunity, coming off a strong season as Notre Dame’s starter but knowing he is unlikely to start for the Irish in 2023. Depending on the level of transfer joining the Irish and Buchner’s health, it was distinctly possible Pyne would be Notre Dame’s third quarterback next year.

For someone who grew up as a Notre Dame fan, specifically a Brady Quinn fan, assuredly this decision was not an easy one for Pyne.

He had a lengthy and notable offer sheet coming out of high school, but Pyne at his best this season would not draw interest from the likes of Texas A&M, Alabama and LSU as he did three years ago. It may be more pertinent to point out he is a Connecticut native, so schools in the northeast could be most logical for his landing spot.

The Irish should also have quarterback commit Kenny Minchey in the pecking order this spring, expected to sign with Notre Dame on Dec. 21 when the early signing period begins.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame’s QB room creates a friendly trust that has been crucial to Pyne’s success
Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 10 Drew Pyne, junior quarterback

Notre Dame adds a fourth receiver commit to recruiting class, helping a roster need


Notre Dame is addressing its most glaring roster deficiency with a numbers approach. The Irish had only five true scholarship receivers for much of this season, a number they will nearly match in next year’s freshman class alone after adding a fourth receiver commitment on Thursday. Consensus three-star receiver Kaleb Smith (Rick Reedy High School; Frisco, Texas) announced he will join Notre Dame’s class, and he should sign with the Irish on Dec. 21 when the early signing period begins.

Smith was committed to Texas Tech for more than nine months before he backed off that pledge in early November. Marcus Freeman does not welcome official visitors who are committed to other programs, so if Smith wanted to take an official visit to South Bend to watch Notre Dame play Clemson, he needed to open up his recruitment.

The Irish 35-13 win against the then-No. 4 Tigers assuredly helped tip the scales away from his homestate Texas Tech.

Otherwise, Smith has hardly been recruited by anyone. The only other Power Five program to chase him was Baylor when current Notre Dame receivers coach Chansi Stuckey was there.

Listed at only 6-foot and 168 pounds, it is easy to pencil in Smith as a slot receiver, but he is also willing to go up in the air to get the ball. His highlight footage features him repeatedly and astonishingly open.

His size, or lack thereof, will make Smith unique among the quartet of incoming signees. By snagging four receivers in this class, the Irish are proactively fixing an undeniable roster problem. In last year’s Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame had only four receivers available. Through most of this season, in part due to injuries to Avery Davis and Joe Wilkins, the Irish had a total of six receivers available, including former walk-on Matt Salerno.

While Braden Lenzy will not return for the Irish in 2023, current sophomores Jayden Thomas, Deion Colzie and Lorenzo Styles should all come back, along with current freshman Tobias Merriweather. With these four commitments, a position group of eight may allow Notre Dame to have a genuine two-deep.

If signing four receivers in a class and seven in two years seems like an unsustainable influx, keep in mind two things. First of all, the Irish desperately need to find receiver depth. Lenzy was famously and admittedly exhausted at the end of that Fiesta Bowl faceplant 11 months ago. One more injury this season would have further crippled Notre Dame’s passing game in 2022. Secondly, the one-time transfer allowance will make departures from the program both more common and more alluring to the players. Natural attrition will occur.

RELATED READING: A third four-star receiver commitment, Jaden Greathouse, elevates Notre Dame’s class of 2023 from good to Great
Four-star receiver Rico Flores Jr.’s commitment gives Notre Dame some receiver hope for 2023
Four-star Texas receiver Braylon James gives Notre Dame needed offensive piece in class of 2023

CB Cam Hart out for Notre Dame’s bowl game, but will return in 2023

Notre Dame v North Carolina
Getty Images

Perhaps earlier than expected, Notre Dame has already received good news this offseason. Senior cornerback Cam Hart will return for a fifth year in South Bend, though he will not put on pads for the Irish in any bowl game, he announced Tuesday evening.

“Due to a shoulder injury that I sustained during the Boston College Game [sic], I could not participate in our final regular season game and will not be able to participate in this year’s bowl game,” Hart wrote on Twitter. “Consequently, I believe my time here isn’t necessarily complete. Choosing to attend the University of Nore Dame has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire life.

“In light of that, I’ve decided to return for a fifth season and look forward to taking the field with my brothers in 2023!”

Hart’s 2023 return should give the Irish four returning cornerbacks with starting experience, only fifth-year nickel back Tariq Bracy a notable departure from this year’s cornerbacks group.

Note: The use of “should” is not meant to imply anything about other possibilities. The conditional verb is chosen as recognition of the constantly changing rosters in college football in 2022.

Hart took part in Notre Dame’s Senior Day festivities before facing Boston College, which suggested he was at least considering jumping to the NFL. This quick announcement indicates the injury ruled out that thought process, though the injury had plagued him at points earlier in the season.

A shoulder injury first flared up for Hart this year in the spring of 2022, costing him spring practices. A concern had previously cost him some of 2019, as he adapted from playing receiver in high school. He nonetheless played in 11 games in 2022, starting 10 and making 25 tackles with three for loss and breaking up four passes.

His passes defensed fell from nine in 2021, along with two interceptions, in part because opposing quarterbacks were less enticed to test the increasingly-experienced cornerback. His 6-foot-2 ½ length made Hart something just short of a shutdown cornerback.

With current freshman Benjamin Morrison surging to close this season and classmate Jaden Mickey stepping in for Hart at USC, Notre Dame should enjoy a plethora of tested cornerbacks in 2023. (Current junior Clarence Lewis is the aforementioned fourth.)

In many respects, this will allow the Irish defense to begin the 2023 season with the same calm it had in 2022, when Hart, Lewis and Bracy provided experienced pass defense.

“You have three older veteran corners that can really play at any moment, which makes you feel good,” head coach Marcus Freeman said in August. “Those three guys can play those two corner spots and I don’t feel there will be a drop off with any of them.”

There are a few key decisions left on Notre Dame’s defense — most notably, defensive end Justin Ademilola and safety Brandon Joseph could return in 2023 — but most of them may come after any Irish bowl game. Hart’s choice was presumably expedited by his apparent exclusion from the bowl game due to this injury.

2020: 8 games; 3 tackles, 2 passes defended.
2021: 13 games, 10 starts; 42 tackles with four for loss, 9 passes defended and two interceptions.
2022: 11 games, 10 starts; 25 tackles with three for loss, 4 passes defended.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 5 Cam Hart, senior cornerback, second-year starter

Things We Learned: Notre Dame’s offensive shortcomings again highlighted by an explosive counterpart

Getty Images

There are two ways to look at USC’s 38-27 win against Notre Dame on Saturday, and they both tie back to the Trojans’ being the best Irish measuring stick.

USC beat Notre Dame in a way that underscores how short-handed the Irish always were this season. When Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams began to cement his status as the Heisman frontrunner with a performance that will be long remembered, Notre Dame had no way to consistently counter him.

“We didn’t stop them,” Irish head coach Marcus Freeman said simply enough.

Without the offensive skill position players needed to match Williams’ explosive play for explosive play, Notre Dame needed its defense to play perfectly, clearly an unfair ask against a Lincoln Riley offense.

“USC is a great team,” Irish quarterback Drew Pyne said. “That was a really good team we played out there. They’re going to go on and do great things for the rest of their season. Caleb Williams is a great player.”

If the Irish had not had junior tight end Michael Mayer — eight catches on nine targets for 98 yards and two touchdowns — they may not have been able to stay in even vague distance of the Trojans. Three heaves to Deion Colzie gained 75 yards and three first downs, but each felt like Pyne was hoping more than anything else.

Notre Dame still made it a game, but the discrepancy in offensive playmakers stood out in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

And while both programs will undergo some turnover — most notably Mayer for the Irish; receiver Jordan Addison and running back Austin Jones will both likely be at the next level next year, among Trojans’ contributors this weekend — Notre Dame will need to close that gap to compete with USC next season.

The variance of a schedule may keep the Irish from too staunchly improving on their 8-4 record this year, but a certainty is that Williams will be ready to dazzle again in South Bend on Oct. 14, 2023.

Notre Dame right now does not have the offensive firepower to keep up with such a dynamic attack. As soon as the Irish gifted the Trojans chances to take a lead, their running game was mitigated and Notre Dame’s best hopes were reduced to Mayer and those heaves to Colzie.

Williams can dance his way through any defense, perhaps shy of Georgia’s. Even if the Irish secondary had been fully healthy, Williams’ rhythmic scrambles still would have broken down the defense. If Utah helms him in this weekend, it may be as much due to a USC letdown as it is to any Utes’ scheme. His stardom is an extreme, but this is college football in 2022, again aside from Georgia.

Many will instinctively point to Pyne’s shortcomings, ignoring how well he played in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He made two mistakes, yes, but one of them (the cross-body interception) came as Notre Dame was more and more desperate and the other (the fumbled exchange) was in part a result of the Irish abandoning their ground game as they fell further behind.

Pyne finished 23-of-26 for 318 yards and three touchdowns. Every version of breaking down those stats yields praise for Pyne. A reality of a loss and a reality when the opposing quarterback broke through as a national star, no time was spent in postgame press conferences discussing Pyne’s efficient night.

But it was, regardless.

His final incompletion, the interception from Notre Dame’s own red zone, also overshadowed the second-most accurate day in Irish passing history, but it was an understandable mistake. Notre Dame was trailing by two scores with only five minutes remaining. Wasting a play on a throwaway was low on Pyne’s priority list.

If Pyne had established more of a season-long rapport with Colzie, maybe he sees him down the left sideline as highlighted by Kirk Herbstreit on the broadcast. If Braden Lenzy is a bit less worn down by a season-long receiver shortage, maybe he is able to charge into Pyne’s ill-advised pass rather than try to settle in for a low catch. If … maybe, if … maybe.

Only twice this season has USC managed as few as 31 genuine points — discounting the short-field touchdown in the final three minutes courtesy of Pyne’s pick, though not all that necessary given the Trojans fell short of 40 points just twice in their first 11 games. Oregon State and Washington State had the luxuries of facing Williams before he had reached the peak of his powers with this new, transfer-obtained complement of receivers.

The Irish defense did its part against USC. Notre Dame’s offense just could not match the star of the season.

Williams will star again next year. The Irish defense will most likely still be stout. Those truths this season will carry over. Notre Dame then has to wonder only if its offense can develop and/or find more playmakers, a known need this entire season and now the pressing concern entering the offseason, a need emphasized by the Trojans’ offense, the foe that should again define 2023.