Coming off its most productive offensive performance in four seasons, Notre Dame now welcomes back one of its most important weapons.
Receiver Michael Floyd will provide Jimmy Clausen with another big target as the 19th-ranked Fighting Irish continue their quest for a BCS bowl appearance Saturday against visiting Navy.
Coming off a series of nail-biting finishes, Notre Dame (6-2) left little doubt in a 40-14 drubbing of lowly Washington State in San Antonio last Saturday.
Clausen was 22 of 27 for 268 yards and two touchdowns, guiding an offense that rolled up 592 total yards -- the program's most since gaining 663 in a 38-31 win at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
Floyd could help the unit even more after the sophomore was cleared to play for the first time since breaking his collarbone Sept. 19 against Michigan State. In less than three full games, the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has 358 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
"He came back to me and said, 'I'm ready to go,'" Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said of Floyd.
"The biggest thing he's going to have to happen is to get tackled once. He'll get hit in practice some, but I doubt we're going to try him out in practice. I think we're going to have to wait and find that out as it happens in game."
Floyd creates a dangerous combination with junior Golden Tate, who has been carrying a heavy load in Floyd's absence. Tate needs 73 more receiving yards for his second straight 1,000-yard season.
After rushing for a 16-yard touchdown last Saturday, Tate caught a highlight-reel 50-yard TD from Clausen at the end of the first half against Washington State, jumping among three defenders to pull down the Hail Mary.
"It was probably one of the most phenomenal catches I've seen anyone make, ever," Weis said.
Notre Dame also got a strong performance from running back Robert Hughes, who had 131 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries while filling in for injured starter Armando Allen. Allen is day to day with an ankle problem.
The Irish's running game could be important one week after Navy allowed 274 yards on the ground during a 27-24 home loss to Temple that snapped the Midshipmen's five-game winning streak.
Weis believes if Notre Dame can put together its own streak and win its final four games, the Irish will have a good chance to reach a BCS game for the first time since the 2006 season.
"We've put ourselves in position. We get to control our own destiny," Weis said. "It's always good when you're not counting on somebody's help to be able to control your own destiny."
Historically, the matchup with Navy (6-3) has all but guaranteed a win for the Irish, who had a 43-game winning streak in the series before the last meeting at Notre Dame Stadium.
On Nov. 3, 2007, the Midshipmen broke the skid with a 46-44, three-overtime win in South Bend. Notre Dame answered with a 27-21 road win last Nov. 15, but almost lost a 20-point lead in the final two minutes after Navy recovered a pair of onside kicks.
The undersized Midshipmen enter the 83rd meeting with Notre Dame on the brink of another bowl berth behind coach Ken Niumatalolo's triple-option offense, which ranks third nationally in rushing with 279.8 yards per game.
Junior quarterback Ricky Dobbs has thrown just 66 passes all season, and without him Oct. 24 against Wake Forest, Navy did not attempt a pass. Dobbs saw only limited action against Temple as he returns from a knee injury, but he still leads the team with 170 carries and has scored more touchdowns -- 16 -- than any other player in the nation.
Last year, the Irish bottled up Dobbs for 27 yards on 13 carries.
Weis seemed more concerned about Navy's veteran-laden defense, which he called "by far the best Navy defense that they've had in my time here."
Just two seasons after allowing more than 36 points per game, Navy opponents are averaging 21.4 points. The Mids will try to bounce back after a late breakdown against Temple, which scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 41-yard run with 2:41 left.
Navy plays a 13-game schedule and still needs one more victory to secure a bowl spot for the seventh straight year.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every College Football game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.
Irish eyes will be smiling when Michael Floyd returns to the lineup for Notre Dame's game against Navy. The star receiver was expected to be out until bowl season but returns early after breaking his collarbone Sept. 19. The Midshipmen need one more win to become bowl-eligible.