Keys to the Game: Notre Dame vs. Navy

Is Everett Golson the man to lead Notre Dame back to prominence? (US Presswire)

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: It's been a pretty simple formula for Notre Dame the last few years. If the Irish can take care of the football then this is a game they should win based on talent alone. Of course, that doesn't mean things will be easy. Everett Golson is making his first college start after redshirting his freshman season in 2011, and running back Cierre Wood has been suspended for this game.

At this point Golson is more of a running threat than a passer, which plays into Notre Dame's hands as Navy finished 2011 ranked 92nd in run defense, allowing 186.9 yards per game on the ground. As long as Golson can hold on to the ball, Notre Dame's defense should be able to contain Navy's option running attack.

NAVY WILL WIN IF: It can control the ball and time of possession in this game, wearing down the Notre Dame defense and keeping the Irish offense off the field. Navy had only two drives against Notre Dame last season that lasted longer than seven plays, and neither ended in points. That can't happen again if the Midshipmen want to win.

Navy does return seven starters on defense, and it will be up to the Navy defense to make life rough on Everett Golson. Redshirt year or not, this is Golson's first college football game, and freshmen players make mistakes. Force him to make them, turn the ball over and Navy has a much better shot at victory.

X-Factor: Gee Gee Green. With Kriss Proctor and Alexander Teich gone, Gee Gee Greene is Navy's leading returning rusher this season, and he also brings the ability to change this game. Greene only had 4 touches in Navy's loss to the Irish last season, but that number is going to increase this season, and if he's able to break a big play or two Navy's chances improve.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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