Heisman-Rich Notre Dame-Navy Series Kicks Off The 2023 College Football Season

Notre Dame and Navy will renew their 93-game-long series Saturday in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday, the Aug. 26 date the earliest meeting of the storied and Heisman-rich rivalry that dates to Oct. 15, 1927.

The 2:30 p.m. ET start time makes the contest the first game of the 2023 college football season. Notre Dame leads the series 79-13-1.

The previous earliest match-up between the Fighting Irish and the Midshipmen was also played in Dublin on Sept. 1, 2012, the first time the schools had met before October. The earliest game in the series on American soil is Oct. 10, 2015. 

Let’s dig into the #HeismanHistory in the series.

Notre Dame’s Tim Brown is the most recent Heisman winner to play in the series on Halloween, 1987. Brown helped the Irish defeat Navy, 56-13, in South Bend, with 173 total yards, including a 51-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. He did so without the fingernail on his left hand ring finger after it was ripped off while blocking on the game’s third play. Stitches and painkillers got him back into the game, although he played just one full quarter (the second).

Notably in his career against Navy, Brown averaged 25.5 yards every time he touched the football (459 yards on 18 plays).

Twenty three years earlier, also on Halloween, 1964 Notre Dame Heisman winner John Huarte faced off against 1963 winner Roger Staubach and Navy squad for the second year in a row.

The 1964 meeting saw Huarte and the Irish shellack Navy, 40-0, at John F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Philadelphia. Huarte completed 10-of-17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns, including an early 74-yard scoring pass.

A year earlier, and just 20 days before President Kennedy was assassinated, Staubach turned in one of the signature performances of his 1963 Heisman season. A 7-7 game at halftime, Staubach helped orchestrate a 28-point second half and led Navy to a 35-14 win at Notre Dame. In the process, he broke the Midshipmen record for total yards in a season.

Navy’s first Heisman recipient, 1960 winner Joe Bellino, rushed for 112 yards and scored both touchdowns in the Midshipmen’s 14-7 victory over Notre Dame that year in the previously name Philadelphia Stadium. His first score came on a leap over the goal line from inside a yard, the second was a 12-yard scamper.

1956 Notre Dame star Paul Hornung is notably the only Heisman winner to play for a losing team, which included a 33-7 loss to Navy that season. Hornung had a mere 10 yards rushing in the game.

Three years earlier on another Halloween affair, during John Lattner’s 1953 Heisman season, Notre Dame won, 38-7. And 1949 Notre Dame winner Leon Hart helped the Irish to a 40-0 victory.

The late John Lujack led Notre Dame to a shutout win in 1947, 27-0. Lujack completed 10 of 18 passes for 172 yards and two scores and also had a 72-yard run.

And in the first game between the schools to feature an eventual Heisman winner, 1943 Notre Dame winner Angelo Bertelli threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in a 33-6 romp.