ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The storied rivalry between Navy and Notre Dame is no longer a one-sided affair.
Notre Dame ran off an NCAA-record 43 straight wins in the series before Navy ended the streak with a 46-44 victory in 2007. The Midshipmen won again on the road in 2009, and a victory in 2010 gave Navy's senior class three victories in the series - a feat only accomplished twice before, in 1937 and 1964.
The Fighting Irish rebounded from the 2010 loss to beat Navy 56-14 last year, and hope to build on that win Saturday when the rivalry resumes in Dublin.
Navy senior slotback John Howell will never forget the euphoria of that 35-17 win two years ago. Fullback Alexander Teich and quarterback Ricky Dobbs led the way as the Midshipmen piled up 438 yards of total offense.
"It was an awesome game. Offensively, everything was clicking. It just seemed like every play was working and everyone executed," Howell said. "You put that many points and yards up on a high-caliber team and it's a lot of fun."
Howell also remembers the sting of last year's lopsided loss.
"I felt like people were too laid-back for that game. We came in more relaxed than usual and weren't on point," Howell said. "They jumped on us early and took total control. It wasn't the way a Navy team is supposed to play. It was embarrassing."
Navy senior safety Tra'ves Bush played in that 2010 win and last year started at outside linebacker in the nickel package. He finished with eight tackles, but his heroics came in a defeat that completed a six-game losing streak during a 5-7 season.
"That's what we try to get across to these young guys," Bush said. "We've all been on a team that won 10 games, and we've also been on a team that only won five. We were all on a team that beat Notre Dame pretty good, but we were also on a team that lost pretty badly to Notre Dame."
The Irish, similarly, are taking nothing for granted. A journey to Ireland will be fun, but Notre Dame is treating this like a business trip.
"Navy is a good team to start off with," wide receiver John Goodman said. "I think they are tough physically and play really disciplined football. It's what we need to face right off the bat. I think we're ready to play, more than last year."
Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore is one of several players among the Irish who, like the Midshipmen, have experienced both the good and the bad in this rivalry. Moore will be key figure Saturday because it's up to him to put an outside seal on Navy's potent triple option.
"They are a very capable squad every year," he said of Navy. "The best thing is to watch film, because we can't simulate the speed that Navy goes. They are a really well coached team."
Lewis-Moore is in Ireland to play football, but he's also thrilled about this one-of-a-kind road trip.
"I'm looking forward to doing something new. I've never been across the ocean or the pond, like everybody says," he said. "I'm excited to see something different. I heard it's gorgeous out there and hopefully we'll do a little sightseeing."
When it comes time for the kickoff, Navy left guard Josh Cabral knows the Midshipmen have to perform at a high level to win.
"I think we've developed a sense that if we go in there and play as hard as we can and execute at a high level we have a chance," Cabral said. "Obviously, we have to play perfect football in a lot of areas in order to beat them."
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is 1-1 against the Midshipmen. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo is 2-2 against Notre Dame, a record he knows won't mean a thing Saturday.
"We're not worried about 2010 and we're trying to forget last season," Niumatalolo said. "This is a new year and we're just trying to get ready for a football game. Right now, our main concern is making sure we know what we're doing so we have a chance to compete."