Despite the one-sided result the last few decades, most Notre Dame and Navy fans consider the series a sacred tradition for historical reasons. Both schools have strong football traditions going back to the beginnings of the sport. Notre Dame, like many colleges, faced severe financial difficulties during World War II. The US Navy made Notre Dame a training center and paid enough for usage of the facilities to keep the University afloat. Notre Dame has since extended an open invitation for Navy to play the Fighting Irish in football and considers the game annual repayment on a debt of honor. The series is marked by mutual respect, as evidenced by each team standing at attention during the playing of the other's alma mater after the game, a tradition that started in 2005. Navy's athletic director, on renewing the series through 2016, remarked "...it is of great interest to our collective national audience of Fighting Irish fans, Naval Academy alumni, and the Navy family at large." The series is scheduled to continue indefinitely; renewals are a mere formality.
Notre Dame's NCAA-record 43-game win streak against Navy began in 1964:
1964 - Notre Dame 40, Navy 0: Notre Dame came in at 5–0 under first year coach Ara Parseghian and proceeded to shut out the injury-riddled Mids in a game that pitted 1963 Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach against 1964 winner John Huarte.
1974 - Notre Dame 14, Navy 6: For three quarters, Navy kept the Fighting Irish offense in check with a prodigious punting game and led 6–0 going into the fourth quarter. Notre Dame quarterback Tom Clements managed to throw a touchdown pass to Pete Demmerle to put the Fighting Irish in front, then Randy Harrison added an insurance touchdown with an interception return. Although no one knew it at the time, Ara Parseghian made up his mind during the trip back to South Bend to resign at the end of the season.
1976 - Notre Dame 27, Navy 21: Dave Waymer tipped away a fourth down pass in the end zone late in the game to preserve the win for Notre Dame.
1984 - Notre Dame 18, Navy 17: John Carney's field goal with 14 seconds left erased a 17–7 deficit. However, it should not have counted because the officials didn't see the play clock expire before the ball was snapped.
1997 - Notre Dame 21, Navy 17: Allen Rossum saved the day for the Fighting Irish, knocking Navy receiver Pat McGrew out of bounds at the 1-yard line on a 69-yard pass as time ran out.
1999 - Notre Dame 28, Navy 24: Notre Dame needed a controversial 1st down call on 4th and 9 with 1:37 left to score the winning touchdown and escape with a 28–24 win.
2002 - Notre Dame 30, Navy 23: Notre Dame, coming off a 14–7 upset loss to Boston College, scored 15 unanswered points late in the fourth quarter to pull this one out under first-year head coach Tyrone Willingham.
2003 - Notre Dame 27, Navy 24: D. J. Fitzpatrick's 40-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Fighting Irish over Navy in an otherwise dismal season for Notre Dame, who entered the game at 2–6.
In years when Navy hosts (even-numbered), it is one of few non-Southeastern Conference games aired on CBS. In years when Notre Dame hosts (odd-numbered), it is carried on NBC as are other Notre Dame home games.