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.
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.