Brian Kelly announced that Nix was officially ruled out on Thursday, likely meaning that senior Kona Schwenke will earn his fifth start of the season. Schwenke filled in for Nix last week against Air Force and started three games in place of Sheldon Day earlier this season.
CBSSports.com currently has Nix ranked as the No. 14 overall prospect and No. 1 defensive tackle in the 2014 NFL Draft class, and both Rob Rang and Dane Brugler project him to be a first-round selection.
Nix has been limited in practice for the last two weeks due to his knee issue, but the decision to keep him out might have as much to do with the opponent as the severity of the injury. Both Air Force and Navy are known for their option-heavy rushing attacks with misdirection and plenty of cut blocking. It sounds like exactly the last opponent a defensive lineman would want to face with any knee injury.
However, Nix's absence is not likely to sway the Fighting Irish's ability to stop Navy's offense. The Midshipmen gashed Notre Dame for 367 rushing yards in 2010 (Brian Kelly's first year in South Bend), but have been held to 345 yards on the ground in the last two meetings combined.
After Navy, Notre Dame will travel to Pitt before a week off and back-to-back meetings against BYU and Stanford to close the season. The Fighting Irish are not out of BCS bowl contention, but health will be an issue against some of the most physical teams in the country.