Notre Dame’s “weak” schedule looked a little tougher this weekend with Washington knocking off USC giving the Irish three top 25 opponents – USC, Washington, and Michigan – with a fourth – Pitt – knocking on the door of the top 25 as well. Here’s this week’s recap of how Notre Dame’s opponents fared this weekend.
Nevada (0-2) – L, 20-35 @ Colorado State
That season opening win over what most people felt was a really good WAC team is looking a little less impressive after Nevada’s 35-20 loss on the road against Colorado State. Nevada was shut out in the first half, but finally got on the scoreboard for the first time in 2009 in the third quarter. Nevada actually outgained Colorado State, but turned the ball over five times – 3 fumbles and 2 interceptions. They also committed 11 penalties in an overall sloppy performance. A home game against Missouri looms large for Nevada this weekend. Missouri’s offense has been very strong so far this season. Expect to see the Wolf Pack still searching for their first win of the season after next weekend.
Michigan (3-0) – W, 45-17 vs. Eastern Michigan
Tate Forcier didn’t look like Superman again this weekend, but he didn’t have to. Michigan ran the ball for 380 yards. Carlos Brown had 187 on his own with 90 coming on his second quarter touchdown run. Four different Wolverines ran for touchdowns in their 45-17 win over Eastern Michigan. Forcier got banged up in the win, but it didn’t seem serious. Michigan will host Indiana next weekend and should still be undefeated in next week’s column.
Michigan State (1-2) – L, 30-33 @ Notre Dame
Both Michigan State and Notre Dame left a ton of plays on the field this weekend. Kirk Cousins missed a wide open Larry Caper in the endzone a play before throwing the game ending interception. Michigan State also dropped an easy interception on a drive which Notre Dame would end up scoring the go ahead touchdown on. At the same time, Notre Dame dropped three fairly easy interceptions, had a touchdown called off, and dropped an easy pass inside the Michigan State five yard so both teams had their fair share of chances. Michigan State was uncharacteristically (at least under Mark Dantonio) sloppy at times on Saturday. The Spartans will try to rebound next week on the road against Wisconsin. The Badgers are coming off a win against Wofford (really Wisconsin, you couldn’t find anyone else to fill that spot on your schedule) and is 3-0. None of their wins has been overly impressive though and Michigan State could steal a win in Madison.
Purdue (1-2) – L, 21-28 vs. Northern Illinois
A week after looking pretty impressive in defeat on the road against Oregon, the Boilermakers came home and lost to Northern Illinois. Purdue gave up 280 yards rushing to Northern Illinois and turned the ball over three times – all fumbles – in defeat. Outside of a 58 yard touchdown run by Joey Elliot, Purdue also had more trouble running the football than they’ve had the previous two weeks. Purdue managed just 89 yards rushing on their other 22 rushing ate#mpts.
Washington (2-1) – W, 16-13 vs. #3 USC
Washington pulled off the upset of the year so far by knocking off the third ranked Trojans at home this past weekend. Jake Locker was at the top of his game in the upset of USC, but the Washington defense was the real story behind their big win. The Husky defense held USC to 360 yards of offense, forced three turnovers, and didn’t allow USC to convert a single third down. Washington will have to stay focused with a trip to Stanford coming this weekend before they make the trip to South Bend in two weeks.
USC (2-1) – L, 13-16 @ Washington
USC was able to run the ball when they wanted to with 250 yards on 33 attempts (7.6 yards per carry), but couldn’t get much going through the air in Aaron Corp’s first career start. Corp was 13 of 22 for 110 yards with one interception. USC will face Washington State this weekend and should get back on track. Typically when USC loses on the road to unranked Pac 10 teams, they respond with a serious beat down the following weekend. Last year after losing to Oregon State, USC stomped #23 Oregon to the tune of 44-10.
Boston College (2-1) – L, 7-25 @ Clemson
After opening up the season with home games against Northeatern and Kent State, Boston College got their first test of the season on the road against Clemson. The Eagles offense couldn’t get going all game. BC gained a paltry 54 yards of offense. Quarterback Justin Tuggle was 4 of 20 for 23 yards and a touchdown to go along with three interceptions. As a team Boston College ran the ball 28 times for a total of 29 yards. Clemson’s offense didn’t a do a lot and relied heavily on field goal kicker Richard Jackson who connected on five field goals. The Boston College defense played reasonably well in limiting CJ Spiller to 77 yards on 17 carries, but the offense was just awful. Boston College will host Wake Forest this weekend. I think Boston College will win a close, low scoring game with Wake making their first road trip of the season.
Washington State (1-2) – W, 30-27 vs. SMU (OT)
The Cougars got their first win of the season with an over victory over SMU. Washington State has looked much improved this season, but even in their win, they looked shaky, SMU outgained Washington State 504 to 276. Both teams combined for 8 turnovers in the game (5 from SMU, 3 from WSU). Washington took two interceptions back for touchdowns and scored a game tying touchdown with less than 30 seconds. The Cougars look better this year, but their offense is still a major work in progress.
Navy (1-2) – L, 14-27 @ Pittsburgh
Navy gave Pitt a pretty good game, but couldn’t get their offense going. Pitt forced Navy to throw the ball and Ricky Dobbs wasn’t able to get much going against the Panther defense. Navy did a good job of bottling up Dion Lewis for just 79 yards on 23 carries. Lewis had back to back 100+ yard games to start the season, but was held to a meager 3.4 yards per carry average against Navy. The Midshipmen host Western Kentucky this weekend and should get their record back to .500.
Pittsburgh (3-0) – W, 27-14 vs. Navy
Pitt improved to 3-0 on the season with their win over Navy. It wasn’t pretty, but the game was never really in doubt and the Panther defense held Navy to just 129 yards rushing. Pitt will travel to North Carolina State this weekend. NC State hasn’t been tested at all since their dreadful performance on the first ESPN Thursday night game of the season. The Panthers should find themselves 4-0 at this time next week.
Connecticut (2-1) – W, 30-22 @ Baylor
UConn bounced back from their tough loss to North Carolina with a nice win over a decent Baylor team. Zack Frazer didn’t play for UConn, but the Huskies had two backs go over a 100 years – Andre Dixon and Jordan Todman. UConn forced three turnovers and was an impressive 11 for 20 on third downs. UConn gets a warmup game against Rhode Island and will then get two weeks off to prepare for what could be a pretty big Big East game.
Stanford (2-1) – W, 42-17 vs. San Jose State
Stanford took care of business this weekend with a 42-17 win over San Jose State. Stanford bottled up the San Jose State run game allowing just 24 yards on 28 attempts. Stanford’s offense was solid in the win with Andrew Luck connecting on 9 of 12 attempts for 170 yards. They did turn the ball over four times though (3 fumbles, 1 INT) and committed 9 penalties for 89 yards. They will take on Washington in what should be a pretty good Pac 10 game.