Notre Dame-Army at Yankee Stadium: Brutally Honest Game Preview

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Are you noticing a theme this week? All three of Chicago’s home college football teams are playing neutral site games in the homes of big city, big market Major League Baseball teams. For the preview of the Wrigleyville Classic between Northwestern and Illinois go here.

The ND-Army contest, the first football game of any kind in new Yankee Stadium, features one bowl eligible team and one trying to get there. And it’s opposite of what you expect. The Irish showed some fight last week, routing a top 15 ranked Utah team that was heavily favored, and ranked in the top 5 just a couple weeks ago.

Another South Bend feel good story (and Jesus knows they could use more of ’em this year) is Lake Forest product Tommy Rees, the new QB who’s getting the chance to “live his dream.” Will he lead them to 14 straight over the Cadets, obtaining that postseason berth, and the 15 extra practices that come along with it?

By Paul M.Banks

taylor swift selena gomez ND

Notre Dame Synopsis: Last week’s upset provided a much needed bright spot in a season that’s been nightmarish both on and off the field. People wonder what the fallout for the Declan Sullivan tragedy will be, and if it will eventually cost Head Coach Brian Kelly and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick their jobs.

Those questions will be answered later. For now, it’s time to find out if the Irish will get to the postseason or not.

This game will be the second of a series of “off-site” home football games for Notre Dame in which the Irish are taking games that could be played at Notre Dame Stadium and moving them to venues around the country. The first of those took place Oct. 31, 2009, when Notre Dame routed Washington State, 40-14, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Notre Dame and Arizona State are slated to meet in 2013 at the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington, Texas.  Also, Navy is giving up a home game to play the Irish in Dublin, Ireland in 2012.

Notre Dame has over 8,261 alumni in the New York City metropolitan area, and it’s a shame they won’t get to see the Irish at anywhere near full strength. Notre Dame has undergone season-ending injuries to senior C Dan Wenger (before the season), junior QB Dayne Crist following the Tulsa game, junior TE Kyle Rudolph following the Pittsburgh game, senior RB Armando Allen Jr. following the Navy game, senior NG Ian Williams following the Navy game and possibly sophomore WR Theo Riddick following the Western Michigan game.

The Irish also lost the services of junior WR Michael Floyd (Navy), junior RB Jonas Gray (Boston College, Pittsburgh, Western Michigan, Navy and Tulsa), sophomore ILB Carlo Calabrese (Tulsa and Utah), senior OT Taylor Dever (Boston College and Pittsburgh) and junior S Jamoris Slaughter (Michigan and Navy). Notre Dame even lost its starting short snapper for the remainder of the season when senior Bill Flavin suffered a broken ankle against Tulsa.

It has been 44 years since Notre Dame lost both its No. 1 quarterback and No. 1 running back to an injury prior to the end of the regular season. Yet they still found a way to snap their 11 game losing streak versus ranked opponents and hold Utah to its first game without a TD in 44 tries.

notre-dame-yankee-stadium

photo credit: New York Yankees

Army Synopsis: The Army offense will try to continue on the momentum of last week when they accrued
233 rushing yards against the then-No. 1 ranked rushing defense at Kent State. The Golden Flashes
entered the game giving up just 69.3 rushing yards per game. Army’s rushing offense ranks 8th in the nation, but their passing is dead last (120th). So expect another snooze fest exactly like the Navy game when ND’s opponent is on offense.

You’ll see more of that boring triple-option and very few pass attempts. The Black Knights recorded their sixth win last week with a 45-28 triumph at Kent State. It is the first time that Army has been eligible for a postseason game since the 1996 team went 10-2 and played Auburn in the Independence Bowl.

notre dame yankee stadium

photo credit: New York Yankees

Guys you’ll see Saturday eventually playing on Sundays: Michael Floyd could be a first rounder, Manti Te’o looks like a 2012 first rounder, and ND tight end Kyle Rudolph, should also be in “the shield” one day. DE Kapron Lewis-Moore and NG Ian Williams have potential too. Possibly

Robert Hughes who for NFL teams seeking a fullback. We’ll talk about Theo Riddick in 2011.Noticing a trend here? Most of these guys have missed time or are done for the season already.

Prediction to be taken with a grain of salt (actually make that a whole truckload of salt):

Army 37, Notre Dame 34  (Banks’ record 15-6)

If you’re under the age of 70 you may wonder where the history and significance of this series originated. The heyday of the rivalry came in the mid-1940s. Over four straight seasons from 1943 through 1946, both Notre Dame and Army came into their Yankee Stadium matchup ranked fifth or higher in that week’s Associated Press poll.

There are many people who criticize ND’s schedule, but it’s really a myth. Notre Dame is one of just four NCAA FBS programs to have not faced a non-FBS opponent since the current setup was established in 1978. The three other remaining schools that have yet to play a non-FBS opponent are USC, UCLA and Washington. They also have the third toughest schedule (based on opponents W-L%) in the nation.

However, I just don’t see them having enough left in the tank to overcome their poor run defense and injuries. Especially since Army’s greatest rival, the Navy Midshipmen, have already provided a blueprint for how to beat the Irish.

For more photos of Yankee Stadium fitted for football go here.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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