Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'd Like to Thank the Academies | by Pat

As Notre Dame gears up to face all three service academies in the next four weeks, the predictable catcalls about the Irish schedule from opposing fanbases and certain sections of the media are growing louder.

Putting aside the silliness of some of these debates, I did get a bit curious as to just how often ND has played all three academies in the same year. Dialing up the trusty Macor Notre Dame Football database, I did some digging. Before you read the answer, take a guess. How many times in the past 25 years would you say the Irish have played all three service academies in the same year?

The answer, as it turns out, is three. The years in question are 1983, 1985, and 1995. That's right, ND has not faced all three service academies in the same year in eleven years and only once since Lou Holtz took over head coaching duties 20 years ago. I would have guessed a higher number. Over the entire 119 year history of Notre Dame football, the Irish have played all three service academies in the same year eight times. In addition to the three years mentioned earlier, the Irish hit the military trifecta in '69, '73, '74, '77, and '80.

The main reason for the low number is the fact that ND only started to play the Air Force Academy in 1964, eight years after the Falcons started a football program. All time ND is 21-5 against Air Force and has won two straight. Against the Army Black Knights, Notre Dame is 36-8-4 and on a 12 game win streak. And the current Navy win streak of 42 is pretty well-known while the Irish are 69-9-1.