Close games becoming the norm at home for Irish

Close games becoming the norm at home for Irish
November 2, 2013, 8:45 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- In the last two years, Notre Dame has two easy wins at home: Last year against Wake Forest, and this year against Temple.

Other than that, the other seven wins in South Bend have been decided by seven points or fewer.

Navy coach Ken Niumatololo -- whose Mids gave Notre Dame a scare in a 38-34 Irish win -- offered one explanation for those close contests.

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"I think Notre Dame goes through this every week -- I mean, everybody gets up for Notre Dame," he said. "For everybody that plays Notre Dame, it's the Super Bowl for that team. For us to come to the Mecca of college football, our kids are excited about it."

That's a mantra Irish players have repeated for years, and perhaps it holds a little truth. Navy's offense was nearly flawless against Notre Dame, rushing for 331 yards -- over 100 more than they gained last week against Pittsburgh.

"It felt like whenever I made a mistake, they always capitalized on it," Irish linebacker Dan Fox said.

[MORE: Tarean Folston breaks out, keys Irish win over Navy]

Navy didn't make many mistakes, either. One on their final drive -- an errant pitch by quarterback Keenan Reynolds -- might've cost the Mids the game. Instead, it was another close call, one similar to the kind of games that littered last year's home slate.

It's tough to say how much the Notre Dame effect has on teams that come to South Bend, and how much Notre Dame's own struggles come into play. The answer is somewhere in the middle, most likely, but after another close game at Notre Dame Stadium the message is clear:

"It's like every other game we play, it's going to come down to the wire regardless who we're playing, regardless of the history between the two teams," receiver and senior captain T.J. Jones said. "We're going to get their best effort, and if we don't bring ours we'll lose."