202.5

No. 3 Notre Dame faces struggling Navy in a Navy town

FILE- In this Dec. 28, 2017, file photo, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo watches from the sideline in the first half of the Military Bowl NCAA college football game in Annapolis, Md. Mired in a three-game losing streak and desperate to get some production from its struggling offense, Navy faces the unenviable task of going up against surging Houston and standout defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Niumatalolo said Oliver is one of two defensive linemen for which his coaching staff has needed to prepare a special game plan. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)

No. 3 Notre Dame (7-0) vs. Navy (2-5) at San Diego, 8 p.m. ET (CBS).

Line: Notre Dame by 23½.

Series record: Notre Dame leads 77-13-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Two weeks after a close call against Pittsburgh, Notre Dame looks to remain undefeated and in position for a playoff berth as it renews the longest intersectional rivalry in college football. Although the Midshipmen will be playing in a Navy town, the first visit to San Diego by the Fighting Irish will have a lot to do with an expected sellout crowd of 66,000.

KEY MATCHUP

Navy’s triple option, third in the nation with 309.4 yards rushing per game, against a Notre Dame defense rested after an open week. Because of the uniqueness of the Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo’s offense, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had three different players imitate Navy’s quarterback during practice.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Notre Dame: QB Ian Book, who’s from El Dorado Hills, California, near Sacramento, looks to improve to 5-0 since replacing Brandon Wimbush. Book overcame two interceptions against Pitt and was 13 of 14 for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, including the game-winning 35-yarder to Miles Boykin with 5:43 left.

Navy: RB Malcolm Perry leads the Midshipmen with 799 yards and seven touchdowns on 127 carries.

FACTS & FIGURES

Navy has lost four straight games. … The game is being promoted by the San Diego Bowl Game Association. … The Midshipmen are 3-4 in San Diego. They beat BYU in the first Holiday Bowl in 1978 and beat Colorado State in the first Poinsettia Bowl in 2005. … In his four games as starter, Book is 100 of 134 (74.6 percent) for 1,138 yards and 10 touchdowns, with three interceptions. … FS Alohi Gilman transferred from Navy to Notre Dame after the 2016 season. As a freshman, he had a team-high 12 tackles for Navy in its 28-27 victory against Notre Dame at Jacksonville. … Notre Dame returns to California on Nov. 24 to face USC. … Navy’s next “home” game in the series will be in Dublin, Ireland, to open the 2020 season. The Fighting Irish and Midshipmen previously played in Dublin in 1996 and 2012.

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