Enemy Report – Week 1

The first week of the college football season brought a few surprises amongst Notre Dame’s opponents.  Several opponents looked stronger than most felt they’d be – see Washington and Purdue – and one almost shocked the college football world – see Navy.  Here’s a full recap of what Notre Dame’s opponents did this weekend.

Notre Dame's opponents were more impressive in week one of the season than most thought they'd be. Could Notre Dame's weak schedule be tougher than people though?

Note: This is a new weekly column that we run here on UHND.com throughout the season.

Nevada (0-1) – Lost to Notre Dame 35-0
Nevada came into Notre Dame Stadium this weekend and got knocked around by the Fighting Irish getting shut out for just the third time in Hall of Fame head coach Chris Ault’s career at Nevada.   The Wolf Pack offense moved the ball but sputtered on third down and could score a single point.  For a team that had pretty high expectations, their season opener was very disappointing.  If they are one of the better teams Notre Dame faces in 2009, it’ll be a great year.

Michigan (1-0) – Beat Western Michigan 31-7
I realize it was just Western Michigan, but the Wolverines looked much better than most people outside of Ann Arbor thought they’d look this early.  They put up all 31 points by half time and their freshmen QB – Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson – both looked pretty good.  Western Michigan had a pretty bad defense last year though and they replaced eight starters from that unit.  Still, Michigan was much more impressive than I thought they’d be on both sides of the ball and looks like they are going to be a lot tougher than most Irish fans thought.

Michigan State (1-0) – Beat Montana State 44-3
It’s tough to take much away from a game against a Championship Subdivision team like Montana State, but Michigan State looked about as good as most expected them to be.  Michigan State used two quarterback pretty equally and both put up good numbers.  Kirk Cousins was 10 of 17 for 183 yards and 3 TDs and Keith Nichol was 9 of 18 for 135 yards and 2 TDs.  As a team, MSU also ran for 175 yards on 40 carries.  MSU plays Central Michigan next week in another tune up for their trip to South Bend.

Purdue (1-0) – Beat Toledo 52-31
Basketball on grass was replaced with a power running game in the first post-Joe Tiller game at Purdue.  Purdue’s Ralph Bolden put up 234 yards – 3rd most in school history – and ran for 315 yards as a team.  Toledo is not a powerhouse opponent, but I don’t think anyone thought that Purdue would put up over 300 yards on the ground in the first game of the Danny Hope era.

Washington (0-1) – Lost to #11 LSU 31-23
The Steve Sarkisian Era in Washington got off to a pretty good start albeit in defeat.  Washington gave LSU all they could handle and Jake Locker showed why he is probably the toughest quarterback Notre Dame will face this year.  Locker threw for 321 yards and ran for another 51 and almost single handily kept Washington in the game throughout.    The Washington defense was just as impressive in keeping LSU off the field and limiting them to 321 total yards.

USC (1-0) – Beat San Jose State 56-3
So much for a rebuilding year for USC.  The Trojans piled up 620 total yards on San Jose State in freshman Matt Barkley’s first career start.  USC relied on their running attack which was led by Joe McKnight and his 145 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Six of USC’s touchdowns came on the ground as USC aimed to ease Barkley into his starting role.  Defensively, USC held San Jose State to 121 total yards and 0.3 yards per rush.

Boston College (1-0) – Beat Northeastern 54-0
The Frank Spaziani Era in Boston got off to a good start with their shutout of overmatched Northeastern.  BC had a balanced offense with 205 passing yards and 236 rushing yards.  On defense they held Northeastern to 131 total yards.  Boston College won’t be flashy this year, but they will play tough defense and solid offense.

Washington State (0-1) – Lost to Stanford 39-13
Washington State showed some improvement in their season opener but still looked inconsistent in getting blown out by Stanford.  They showed some signs of life with senior Kevin Lopina as their quarterback, but they are still unsettled on their starter.  Washington State might be better this year, but they were inconsistent on offense and let up 288 yards on the ground defensively.

Navy (0-1) – Lost to #6 Ohio State 31-27
Navy almost shocked the college football world on Saturday by nearly knocking off the 6th ranked Buckeyes.  Navy used an 85 yard touchdown pass and 24 yard touchdown run by quarterback Ricky Dobbs in the final six and a half minutes of the game to pull within two points of the heavily favored Buckeyes.  Dobbs’s two point conversion pass attempt was intercepted by Ohio State and returned for two Buckeye points, however, and Navy never saw the ball again.  Ohio State got a little taste of what Notre Dame has to prepare for each year.  Navy will be a tough opponent for every they play this year.

Pittsburgh (1-0) – Beat Youngstown State 38-3
Pitt was another opponent who played a Championship Subdivision powerhouse to open their season,.  They handled Youngstown State without the outcome ever being in doubt.  Dion Lewis took over the LeSean McCoy by running for 129 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns – by half time.  It’s tough to figure out much from this game though considering Youngstown State now hasn’t scored a single touchdown in their last five games against Bowl Subdivision teams.

Connecticut (1-0) – Beat Ohio 23-16
Notre Dame transfer Zach Frazer threw two touchdowns and three interceptions in UConn’s season opening win over Ohio.  UConn turned the ball over four times overall and passed for just 127 yards.  The Huskies are replacing current Indianapolis Colt running back Donald Brown with Jordan Todman.  Todman ran for 157 yards on 25 attempts and a touchdown.  Overall, not a very impressive opening game for UConn.

Stanford (1-0) – Beat Washington State 39-13
Andrew Luck kicked off his college career with 193 yards and a touchdown while Toby Gerhart ran for 121 yards and another two scores for Stanford.  The Cardinal actually beat Washington State 58-0 last season so this win wasn’t all that impressive given the context.  Stanford did put up 481 yards of total offense though and were easing in a freshman quarterback.

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  1. You should rename this “Opponent Report”.

    Terrorists are our enemies. Nazis and communists are our enemies.

    The teams we play our our “opponents”. We honor our opponents by putting up flags of their schools and having our band playing their anthems. We honor our opponents.*

    *Except Boston College or Miami. I’m okay calling them our “enemies”.

  2. Hey Kevin you do have some good points but I think in the end ND still wins. ND just has too many weapons on the O. The rushing attack for ND did what it had to do. Were you expecting a 200 plus rushing attack right out of the gate?? Considering they got 178 yards in this game I would say that’s better than I thought they would get. As far as the D goes this isn’t the same D from last year and this isn’t WM either. I know that ND has a lot of work to do but you have to give them credit where credit is due. 0 points allowed not a bad start. Room for improvement HELL yes.
    I guess it just goes to show you can’t please everyone regardless of what happens.

  3. Every FB season brings surprises and this one is no different. A change in just one key player makes or breaks a team. I didn’t believe the SOS that has been flying around this past summer. Mich is still Mich and they prove tough, year after year. Mich State plays FB to play ND. They will not be an easy opponent.

    This a difficult schedule and we should be taking each team seriously and one game at a time. Looking ahead is a killer and that is how upsets occur. OSU made that mistake this year and it almost cost them.

    This team is young and needs to be under estimated. To do otherwise will end up in desaster.

    Hank the Tank

    I was cheering for Navy as I knocked over a lamp in the living room!
    OSU finally realized the Service Academies are not “gimme” wins.
    ( Brings to mind their loss to Air Force in a Liberty Bowl some years back)
    Maybe the Bucks should play the likes of the men from the Academies rather than in state opponets from the MAC.
    As for the nation saying ND has a “fluffy schedule” a quick check:
    Michigan-Big House Stadium Remodeling done-they want this BADLY.
    Michigan State-psychs ND out a lot in recent years. They have what is takes.
    Purdue-anything can happen if they are consistent.
    Washington showed a lot of heart and soul which surprised SEC powerhouse LSU. NO doubt this program will be the most improved in the NCAA this year.
    So much for “fluff” thus far.
    USC-they are loaded. Period. ( forget grade point averages-they got game)
    Boston College-solid defense-time will tell. Would love to beat the hell out of them. I think most things in Boston are arrogant. Red Sox, Patriots,
    Celtics, the People, the Public Workers, Rudest city in America! LOL
    Washington State-will improve-they are first on list not to “scare” me.
    U Conn.–transfers, huskies and Big East-oh my –not a “name” in fb-but hey -who cares? They can pass and they know how to play a varieyt of tempos.
    Pitt-??? could be interesting -as they should improve by late seasonl
    NAVY–Anchors away boys-they humbled the suckeyes-and they never say die.
    We at ND already knew that–the overblown Big 11 ( 10) just got a taste of the so called “light teams.” Yeah whatever.
    Stanford. At night. ON the road. Cardinal could be looking for impressive show for bowl game. ON the way home, let’s toilet paper Nancy Pelosi’s house–and her botox too!
    Light season? Don’t bet on it.
    Focus–not assumption will get the job done.
    ND faithful pray for it and Coaches and Staff must remember this.
    FOCUS and NEVER assume. Go Irish!!!!

  5. From reading the comments, it looks like you might still be looking ahead of Michigan. They were terrible last year and other than their early turnovers it was a very close game. Western Michigan was ranked higher than Nevada. Western Michigan has an NFL bound QB. Michigan is stacked at RB, and Minor should play next week. Michigan does not need to worry about ND’s rushing attack, so it is imperative the Jimmy C has a great day passing and take advantage of the question mark in Michigan’s secondary. Hope for fate to lean in ND’s favor, because a blowout in either direction is not likely. If ND can stay focused, it should be a great season!

  6. Don’t read too much into the first games of the IRISH opponents. Everyone thought Nevada was going come in to ND and push ND around. Well Nevada fell way short of their goals and were sent back to Nevada with tails tucked between legs. Yes Nevada did move ball but fell way short of their average and their rushing D couldn’t stop ND on the ground when it counted nor the passing.
    As for Michigan they should have beaten W. Michigan with no problem and they did. Just keep in mind though W. Michigan isn’t ND. Will NDs rushing game show up? Well I think it will and will compliment the passing game. I also think you will see a little different D when ND shows up to play. Remember ND was facing and experienced QB and running back from Nevada so I think that will also play a factor in the michigan game. Michigan has neither.
    Remember one game at a time. Show me don’t tell me mentality is a must for this season and I think the IRISH have finally gotten the idea. Otherwise it will be a long season.

  7. Frank – Aside from Washington, the other ND future opponents played nobody! I never liked the cupcake openers as you just dont know what you really have until you meet a quality opponent. ESPN goes overboard on SC’s Barkley and his statistics were lacking a solid heartbeat compared to Clausen – Barkley ended up with one TD pass I believe – Clausen was at one point 13 for 13 300+ yards and 4 TD’s. One game does not make a season but it is clear ND has a seasoned QB finally and indeed the best two wide outs in the country. I saw a lot more protection for Jimmy – things are definitely looking up. Michigan’s offense will be exposed this weekend w/ ND’s defense leading the charge. I see a win for sure in the Big House. ND 31 – Michigan 10.

  8. It’s good to seem some life back in the Washington program. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that USC’s recruiting dominance began with the Huskies’ demise at the end of the Neuheisel era.

  9. I twittered you this, not sure if you got it. UW record is backwards. Terrible Navy play call. OSU couldn’t stop the QB follow. Its two yards and your a running team how about running the football? Anything can happen in OT, a Navy W could have really helped the ND SOS. Anyway after 1 week looks like the ND SOS is better than some thought.

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