Notre Dame is a program that prides itself on tradition. Under
Two years ago, the Midshipmen came to South Bend and snapped an NCAA-record 43-game losing streak against their annual nemesis. The game marked the low point in an altogether miserable 3-9 season for Notre Dame.
This season, however, the Irish were purportedly a different team. With Heisman candidates at quarterback (
There goes that.
Navy (7-3) did everything it does best Saturday, playing crisp, disciplined, triple-option football. Led by QB
Clausen got his typically gaudy 453 yards, but that hardly told the story of his day. On consecutive late-game series, Clausen fumbled at the Navy 1-yard line on a hard hit by Navy's
Clausen was able to produce one touchdown drive to cut the score to 21-14 with 4:52 left, but upon getting the ball back with 1:48 remaining, Navy sacked him on both third and fourth downs, the latter for a game-sealing safety. His Heisman hopes were likely vanquished along with the outcome.
Two years ago in this game, Weis took an avalanche of criticism for a questionable late-game decision not to attempt a long field goal. He's been under constant scrutiny ever since, and following Saturday's disaster, he's likely one more loss away from losing his job.
Weis was squarely on the hot seat coming into the season. By his own admission, Notre Dame needed to at least contend for a BCS bowl berth for his fifth season to be considered a success. At No. 22 in last week's standings, it remained feasible for the Irish to climb the necessary eight spots to qualify for a BCS at-large berth. Those hopes are now shot.
Worst of all for Weis, Notre Dame still has its toughest games ahead. The Irish travel next week to 8-1 Pittsburgh. They finish their season at vastly improved Stanford. Barring dramatic improvement by their defense, the Irish will be hard-pressed to win both, and 8-4 or 7-5 -- on the heels of 3-9 and 7-6 -- is simply unacceptable for a $4 million coach whose roster is purportedly loaded with his own hand-picked blue-chippers.
Notre Dame has provided its fans with no shortage of on-the-field drama this season. Now comes the other type.