|Irish seek to extend winning streak against Navy to 44 games, and end home losing skid|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 30 October 2007 12:52|
It would mark the first time in 119 seasons of Notre Dame football that the Irish not only have lost five straight at home, but lost five there in a season. Coach Charlie Weis said Tuesday the fear of another home loss weighs heavier on the Irish than being the first Notre Dame squad to lose to Navy since 1963.
``That's the streak they're most concerned with, winning a game at home,'' Weis said.
The Irish have lost four straight home games three times before. The only other time it happened in a season was in 1960 when they won their home opener before dropping the final four.
Weis doesn't think the NCAA-record, 43-game winning streak against the Midshipmen will affect his team.
``I think when you're 1-7 you're trying to beat whoever you're playing,'' he said.
Heading into the Navy game the past two seasons, Weis spent much of his weekly news conferences trying to convince people how dangerous the Midshipmen were. He didn't have to spend too much time on the subject Tuesday. The Irish are just 3 1/2-point favorites against Navy (4-4) and no one would be too surprised to see the Midshipmen end their slide against Notre Dame.
Along the way of the streak, there have been some close calls.
In 1997, Irish cornerback Allen Rossum shoved Pat McGrew out of bounds on the 1-yard line on the final play as Notre Dame held on for a 21-17 win. In 1999, the Irish got a favorable spot by officials on fourth-and-10 with 1:20 left, keeping the winning drive alive by an inch or so. In 2002, the ninth-ranked Irish scored 10 points in the final 4:23 to win 30-23. There also were last-minute field goals in 1984 and 2003.
Weis, who was a student at Notre Dame when the Irish earned victories 11 through 14 of the winning streak, dismissed the idea that no matter how bad the Irish are, most people expect them to beat the Midshipmen.
``Navy scores points against everybody. It doesn't make a difference who they are playing. And we haven't been scoring many,'' he said. ``So if you just look at it factually, you'd have to say this is not the greatest matchup challenge-wise when it comes to points scored.''
The Midshipmen are averaging 35.75 points a game. The Irish are averaging 10 points a game and have scored 34 points in their last three games combined, and that includes their lone victory against UCLA.
There are some other staggering numbers. Navy is averaging 343 yards a game rushing. Notre Dame has rushed for a total of 273 yards all season. The Midshipmen are averaging more than twice as many rushing yards per quarter (86) than the Irish are per game (34).
The problem for Navy, though, is it is by far the worst defense the Irish have faced this season. The Midshipmen rank 105th in total defense, giving up 460 yards a game. They also rate 112th in scoring defense, giving up 38 points a game and are tied for last in the nation in sacks with five.
``It's a different style of defense,'' Weis said. ``They're a lot more of that bend-but-don't break mentality.''
The biggest advantage for Notre Dame might be that they are coming off a bye week. The Irish will get back leading rusher James Aldridge, who missed the game against USC due to a high ankle sprain. The Irish are 27-5 since 1984 following bye weeks.
But none of those teams were 1-7 with four straight home losses. Weis, though, remains optimistic.
``I expect us to play well,'' he said.