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The 2007 Notre Dame Football Season: The Irish Lose to Two Service Academies

Well, this was definitely not the way Irish fans wanted things to turn out.

@phillykelly (because I asked her to)

SB Nation is changing it up a bit today. We are taking today to look back on the 2007 football season of a decade ago. Unfortunately for us at One Foot Down, that just so happens to have been a terrible year for Notre Dame fans. But hey, who could reminisce on that crazy season without talking about that god-awful year Charlie Weis’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish team went through?

On the way to securing their horrendous 3-9 record, Notre Dame did some impressive things. They got shut out twice. They lost by two or more touchdowns in six out of nine of those losses. They won a whopping one out of eight rivalry games that year, which is a .125 winning percentage for you mathematicians out there. The three teams they beat had an 11-26 record. Nice! Even more impressive, though, is the fact that the Irish managed to lose to both the Air Force Falcons and the Navy Midshipmen in the same year.

The Navy game came first. It was typically cold South Bend weather on the day of the game, and Navy would leave with a warming fire inside the hearts of their players, juxtaposing the ice-cold, battered and beaten demeanor of the Irish team that day.

The Irish actually held a 21-14 lead at halftime, and it looked as if they might secure their second win of the season. Things were hopeful during a year in which hope had been hard to come by for fans, players, and coaches alike at Notre Dame. However, the Irish lost control of the game in the second half, leading to an overtime match that pitted the two longtime annual rivals against each other in what would be a historic game for the series.

After three overtimes, the Navy came out on top. The Midshipmen scored, converted a two-point attempt, and then twice stuffed Irish attempts to tie the game. Twice. That’s embarrassing.

The Navy Misdhipmen bench storms the field after their monumental upset of Notre Dame in 2007
Associated Press

The Falcons came the following week. The perception was that if the Irish were not able to beat the Midshipmen, then there was little hope for them against a superior team in Air Force. We could get into the fallacious nature of “if-then” statements in the real world with all the random variables that have to be accounted for, but we won’t. Because, unfortunately for Irish fans, this perception turned out to be perfectly accurate.

The ‘07 game against Troy Calhoun’s Falcons was never particularly close. It was within a touchdown at half time — Air Force led 17-10 — but the score was misleading. The Fighting Irish were putting up little fight. Air Force would cruise to a 41-24 victory en route to a respectable 9-4 season, making the second loss Notre Dame had suffered to an academy that season.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the craziest thing that happened to Notre Dame that year. Not only did the Irish — or rather, the Midshipmen — snap a streak of 43 straight Irish wins in the rivalry, but the Air Force Falcons doubled down on the historical significance with their defeat of Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame football program has historically played the service academies frequently, but doesn’t often lose to them, let alone twice in the same year. Prior to 2007, the last time Notre Dame had lost to two service academies in the same year was way back in 1944, when they lost to both Army and Navy.

That came during what’s generally considered the era of Frank Leahy, although he wasn’t actually the coach of the Irish at the time. Because of World War II, Leahy had entered the Navy, and Edward McKeever was the head coach of the Fighting Irish at the time. It was McKeever that led the 1944 Notre Dame football team to an impressive 8-2 record and a final ranking of 9.

However, his team lost to the eventual national champions in Army, and to the Navy team that Army beat to become the champions.

What all of this means is that the most impressive thing that the 2007 Notre Dame team did was do something that they hadn’t done in 63 years: lose to two service academies in one season. And it was tragic. Just like the rest of Notre Dame’s terrible 2007 season.

Notre Dame Football's 2007 Legacy

If you thought Notre Dame Football had it rough last year - you obviously have forgotten about 2007.

Posted by One Foot Down - For Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans on Wednesday, July 26, 2017