The Notre Dame-Navy series started in 1927 as an expression of mutual admiration between the two institutions. Then during World War II when many Colleges were struggling to find students, the Navy established Notre Dame as a training center. This act saved the University from economic ruin. At that time out of gratitude, Notre Dame expressed its intention to indefinitely continue the series so long as Navy was willing.
That is how it started and why it has lasted Here is how it’s going.
It is well known that the Irish mostly have dominated the series having won 43 straight starting in 1964.
But during the time Fighting Irish Preview era, the last 25 years, there have been some epic battles between the two for me an Tim Prister to talk about, and some wins by the Midshipmen.
The Irish won each year from 1997 to 2006 but had some narrow escapes. In 1997 it took Allen Rossum knocking a Navy receiver out of bounds at the 1-yard line as time expired to preserve a one score Irish win.
In 1999 Notre Dame got the benefit of a questionable spot after a 4th down play and was able to keep possession and run out the clock to preserve a 4-point win.
In 2002 Ty Willingham’s first team had to score 15 points in the 4th quarter to come from behind for victory.
In 2003 DJ Fitzpatrick kicked a 40-yard FG as time expired to break a tie and secure another Irish win.
Then starting in 2007 things got really interesting.
Navy finally ended the 43-game futility that year in triple overtime with a 46-44 win when a Travis Thomas 2-point conversion run was stopped short.
In 2009 Navy won again, this time by the margin of a 4th quarter sack in the end zone of Jimmy Clausen for a safety, 23-21.
In 2010, Brian Kelly’s first season he had no answer for Midshipman QB Ricky Dobbs and the Navy option as the Irish went down for the second year in a row, 35-17.
The Irish then won five straight including a four-point escape in 2013.
In 2016 ND elected a Justin Yoon field goal with 4:23 remaining to pull within one point. Navy then took the ensuing kickoff and went on to run out the clock to pull off the upset 28-27.
The Irish are currently on a 3-game win streak which started in 2017. That year was another 1 score 24-17 victory. The deciding points were scored on a Brandon Wimbush to Kevin Stephenson TD pass in the 4th quarter.
The last time the Irish met was 2019 and both teams were ranked in the top 25. Ian book threw 5 touchdown passes and Chase Claypool caught 4 of them that day as the #16 Irish prevailed over #23 Navy.
Overall during the 25 years of Fighting Irish Preview the Irish have won 19 over Navy, lost 4 and have escaped with six one score wins.
Pandemic stopped last year’s game that was supposed to be played in Dublin. But the 95-year series which was born out of respect, solidified out of gratitude and has been really competitive for the last quarter century, renews this week in South Bend as the 7-1, #8 ranked Irish square off against the Midshipmen of Navy.