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Opposition round-up

Sep 3, 2012, 7:00 AM EDT

Barkley Woods

With college football kicking off this weekend, Notre Dame wasn’t the only program that got to see what their team was made of. With a schedule that looked to be one of the most daunting slates in the country, I did my best to keep tabs on all the future Irish opponents.

Here’s a quick rundown of the opposition and how they looked in their respective season openers.

PURDUE — Just hours before the game, coach Danny Hope suspended quarterback Caleb TerBush for the game, citing a violation of team rules. That opened the door for sixth year quarterback Robert Marve, who overcame an early interception to breeze by Eastern Kentucky 48-6.

Purdue threw the ball 47 times against the Colonels, but also turned the ball over five times, something the Boilermakers will have to clean up as they move to a considerably more legitimate opponent.

Trending: They were what we thought they were, though the suspension of TerBush, who had just won the starting job, makes things interest.

MICHIGAN STATE — The Spartans probably had the most impressive performance of any team in the Big Ten, holding Boise State to only 206 yards of total offense as they rode running back Le’Veon Bell to a 17-13 victory.

If there’s a concern for Michigan State fans, it’s the passing game, with Andrew Maxwell throwing three interceptions in his first start after replacing Kirk Cousins. Linebacker Max Bullough led the defense in tackles and added 1.5 TFLs as the Spartans defense kept an entirely rebuilt Boise State roster in check.

Trending: The defense sounded to be as good as advertised, though they didn’t get a sack on the Broncos. If Mark Dantonio thinks he can give Le’Veon Bell 50 touches an afternoon, that might be saying more about his trust in the passing game than his love for Bell.

MICHIGAN — It appears one top-ten program in the state of Michigan has been exposed as paper lions. In what was supposed to be the premiere match-up of the college football weekend, Alabama absolutely dominated the Wolverines, neutralizing quarterback Denard Robinson while dominating the line of scrimmage.

Losing to Alabama is nothing to be ashamed of, but the 41-14 defeat never even seemed close. Making things more troubling is an injury to left tackle Taylor Lewan. Cornerback Blake Countess also was injured.

Trending: After a season where everything went right, the opening game couldn’t have gone more wrong for Michigan. The Wolverines will have a chance to right the ship with back-to-back dates with Air Force and Charley Molnar’s UMass squad before they head to South Bend.

MIAMI — After a slow start, the Hurricanes ran away from Boston College 41-32. Touted freshman Duke Johnson ran for 135 yards on just seven carries as Miami battled back from an early 14-point hole. Quarterback Shane Morris completed 28 of his 45 throws for 207 yards with both a TD and interception.

Trending: Eh. Not sure what to make of this game, though young Johnson, one of the most highly touted running backs to come out of Florida, could be worth keeping an eye on.

STANFORD — Life after Andrew Luck might not be so easy after all. Quarterback Josh Nunes played well enough in his debut, but a year after rolling over San Jose State by 54 points, the Cardinal needed to hold on and win 20-17. Stepfan Taylor ran for 116 yards in the win.

Trending: A win is a win. But this is far from impressive.

BYU — It was a pretty resounding victory for Bronco Mendenhall’s squad, spoiling Mike Leach’s debut at Washington State and rolling to an easy victory 30-6. Riley Nelson threw two touchdowns and for 285 yards and the the BYU defense held Wazzu to minus-five yards of rushing.

Trending: This will be an interesting test for the Irish, especially if the BYU passing attack is rounding into form.

OKLAHOMA — It was far from an impressive opening statement for the Sooners, who needed 14 fourth quarter points to pull away from UTEP. Landry Jones started slow before rallying his squad, but UTEP doomed itself after missing three field goals and failing on a fake punt.

Trending: The Sooners were a horrendous 5 of 16 on third down and struggling with efficiency. It’s certainly too soon to panic, but a mediocre debut for sure.

PITTSBURGH — It was a total calamity for new head coach Paul Chryst, who lost his debut to Youngstown State in rather convincing fashion 31-17. Ray Graham returned from an ACL injury, but had a critical fumble. Pitt also gave up over 200 yards on the ground and let the Penguins convert 11 of 16 third downs as Youngstown won their first game against a BCS school.

Trending: This could be an ugly season for Pitt, who might secretly be wishing they never fired Dave Wannstedt.

BOSTON COLLEGE — See above. Lost to Miami. That said, there were signs of life in the Eagles’ offense, a unit that’s been horrendous the past few seasons. Chase Rettig had a big day and hit Alex Amidon ten times for 149 yards.

Trending: Better than expected. But that’s not saying much.

WAKE FOREST — The Demon Deacons just barely scratched by Liberty, a FCS opponent that was tied with the Jim Grobe’s team heading into the fourth quarter. The offense struggled for much of the afternoon after replacing four starters up front. Tanner Price completed 16 of 28 passes, though the Deacs couldn’t reach 100 yards rushing.

Trending: Wake is going to go through some serious growing pains.

USC — The Trojans look every bit the offensive juggernaut expected as they raced off to a 35-point halftime lead over Hawaii and then cruised to a 49-10 win. Marquise Lee had a ridiculous 10 catches for 197 yards and also ran back a kickoff 100 yards for good measure. Matt Barkley completed 23 of 38 throws for 372 yards and four touchdowns.

Trending: Yikes. The Irish secondary has plenty of time to prepare for the dynamic passing offense of the Trojans. They’ll potentially be susceptible on defense but it might not matter with Barkley running the show.



  1. 9irish - Sep 3, 2012 at 7:14 AM

    That is good stuff, Keith, good info. I haven’t been a gloom and doom guy about the schedule anyway, it’s pretty normal to me. Teams are up and down. Michigan is extremely overrated…we thumped MSU last year….could have made it much more interesting with USC. Stanford is one of those teams that actually just beat the hell out of us, but things have changed there now. BC always scares me, because they hate us. BYU is an unknown. Oklahoma is Oklahoma.

    So we’ll see…if we don’t blow off both feet while trying to draw the guns, you never know. Call me optimistic.

    Go Irish

  2. domer77blowsgoats - Sep 3, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Wow should just write *Jinx* after this roundup. So much for the #1 SOS. Just booked my hotel in Miami…

  3. 1historian - Sep 3, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    The only game I watched besides ND-Navy was Alabama v. Michigan. No contest. Alabama’s D started the game in Robinson’s head and stayed there the whole night – They might still be there.

    We have come so close against them – this is the year.

  4. 1historian - Sep 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    But let’s beat Purdue first.

    Then MSU.

  5. nudeman - Sep 3, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    This is a cool new approach. Hope you do this every week.
    Couple points:

    1) The Purdue QB was suspended only for last week’s game I believe.

    2) Everybody is making too much of the UM blowout.
    They got hit by a Bama tidal wave in the first 20-25 minutes but after that the game settled down. I wouldn’t say they played them “even” thereafter, but it was much closer. And Denard showed me that while still an erratic thrower he can stress a defense.

    Count me as one who is still scared by Denard and UM.

    • 9irish - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      See now, I buy that (I do have a degree of affection for U of M), but you just have to contain him. We did that last year. Then they went to these “hand punts” (I think Keith coined the phrase) and our guys were not looking back! THAT was a frustrating loss. Just made me shake my head.

  6. mmcss690 - Sep 3, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    I watched the MSU, Boise game. MSU is beatable. Bell is a strong running back so it will be up to our DL to help contain him. They have a defensive end (Gholston not Golson), he’s Niklas big! Gotta keep him out of the backfield. I know it’s jumping the gun cause we have to beat Purdue first but I believe we can take this game. Their D was strong, but our front line is ready!

  7. mmcss690 - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Nude, I agree. Robinson is dangerous. The Bama game has to be taken in context, UM was playing, arguably the best team in the country. Now, if the Irish could do the same thing to Michigan that would speak volumes! Imagine this for a moment…Robinson drops back…no one is open he scrambles left, right, brings the ball down to scoot around the end….only to be met in an unimpeded, full speed (we’re talking 77 yd fumble recovery, touchdown speed), 6′ 6″, 300 pound Stephon Tuitt!! That’s what I call fantasy football!!!

    • alsatiannd - Sep 4, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      UM will have their #1 tailback, Toussaint, back form suspension when they play ND. Robbinson is great, but showed even he can’t be the entire backfield. Toussaint gives them a much more potent backfield. Which they need since Robbinson can’t throw worth a lick. It’s still inconceivable that his passing is what beat us last year.

  8. bearcatirishfan - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    I think Lou holtz said it best, he was more impressed with Boise state than MSU. They only returned 4 starters on both sides and made it close. I personally think the whole big 10 is over rated see Michigan and penn state. The others all played cupcakes except for MSU.

  9. Tim's Neighbor - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    I watched the first half of the Southern Cal game. I wasn’t -that- impressed with the o-line for their run game. But good God, the passing game. Wow. Barkley is excellent. And even if he wasn’t, Wood and Lee. Yikes.

    Gotta hope we can stop their run game with minimal guys because our secondary is going to need all sorts of help.

    • alsatiannd - Sep 4, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      Let’s see where 2 or 3 season-ending injuries puts USC in November. Could say the same about ND, but I think our depth is better than USC. They’re a shell, an awesome shell, but a shell nonetheless.

  10. mentoneirish - Sep 3, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Good wrapup of our opponents Keith.
    Obviously, a lot of things can change between now and when we face these teams.
    Winning the turnover battle and staying healthy will be crucial for the Irish to be successful against all the remaining opponents.

  11. grantland1924 - Sep 3, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Like most years, we’re capable of going 2 for 2 for the state of MI. Need to keep the t/o margin in our favor and have our db’s at least glance over their shoulders to spot Denard’s ducks. Rather cozy in my ND bubble after week 1.

  12. agoodmedium - Sep 3, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Before they even stepped foot on the field after there 2 year punishment USC once again implicated in another saga… “A key figure in the ongoing corruption scandal at the Los Angeles County assessor’s office said he gave cash and perks worth thousands of dollars to two USC athletes while they were still in school, actions that could violate college sports rules.” Bleacher Report.

    • glowplugv - Sep 3, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      I heard this discussed on ESPN radio this morning (Monday). A running back in 2009 was given a Monte Carlo car. That event is within the 4 year window for reporting violations. Issue was it was not rolled into the violations that got USC the sanctions. Speculation on the announcers part was that they might get a slap but nothing to stop them from competing for the national title this year.

      • agoodmedium - Sep 3, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        Yea I’ve heard the same thing and find it pretty sketchy….. I won’t give USCum the benefit of the doubt when it comes to violating NCAA rules! It seems as if this should have come out before but for some reason it didn’t! Kind of hard to figure the motive of this guy who gave the money and vehicle to these players.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 3, 2012 at 3:12 PM

        From what i read, this violation was investigate with the initial violations, but was not dealt with because the dude handing out the cars and money isn’t a booster. So, the NCAA visited this item seperately.

        I think they irony in this whole situation is the contract between Lane Kiffin (who i perceive to be a snake) and Pat Haden (who i view as one of the truly good guys holding an AD job in the nation).

      • alsatiannd - Sep 4, 2012 at 10:11 AM

        Lane Kiffin is a schmuck.

  13. glowplugv - Sep 3, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Liked the article, Keith, and hope you do this each week. Your “trending” will be more meaningful as we get into the season.

  14. gtizzo - Sep 3, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    As someone who watched the BC and Miami game. Here are a few things I noticed. First Miami had zero pass rush for most of the game. Second BC fumbled an awful lot, while they managed to recover a few of them…I wouldn’t be bullish on butter fingers BC. I will never understand why the media was so high on Washington State. BYU is a far better team on both sides of the ball. Mike Leach will need two or three years to get that program up. I figured you would be a little more up beat since Michigan State can’t throw. ND held the Spartans to just 29 rushing yards last year in a win. That game is going to be won in the trenches. Denard Robinson and the jump ball act didn’t work against Alabama. ND had Robinson under control for 3 quarters of the game last season. The key is the Irish secondary can’t fall apart, and the battle up front needs to be won by ND. The Irish offensive line should be able to push around the front 4 of Michigan.

  15. idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 3, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    I watched as many of ND’s future opponents as i could this weekend and without fail, i was surprised by almost every single one…

    Purdue, BC, and maybe BYU were stronger than i expected

    USC is who i thought they were, strong. MSU was who i thought they were, weak on O, fair to good on D.

    Everybody else looked weaker thanadvertised, i though. I was really expecting an improved throwing game from Denard. I expected Okla to blow out their game. Stanford was weak, Wake didn’t play well, and on and on…

    Bear in mind, it’s only week 1

  16. idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 3, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Here’s your week two schedule if you a couch potato on CFB Saturday’s like me…

    Thursday — Pitt @ Cincinnati — 7pm on ESPN
    Friday — Utah @ Utah St. — 7pm on ESPN2
    Saturday — Penn St. @ Virgina — 11am on ABC
    Sunday — Auburn @ Miss. St. — 11am on ESPN
    Monday — Maryland @ Temple — 11am on ESPNU
    Tuesday — Central Florida @ Ohio State — 11am on ESPN2
    Wednesday — Tulane @ Tulsa — 11am on FoxSportsRegional
    Thursday — New Hamp @ Minnesota — 11am on BigTenNetwork
    Friday — Miami @ Kansas State — 11am on FX
    Saturday — Purdue @ Notre Dame — 2:30pm on NBC
    Sunday — TBD @ — 2:30pm on ABC
    Monday — Florida @ Texas A & M — 2:30pm on ESPN
    Tuesday — Mich. St. @ Central Mich — 2:30pm on ESPNU
    Wednesday — TBD @ — 2:30pm on ESPN2
    Thursday — Delaware St. @ Delaware — 2:30pm on NBCSN
    Friday — Rice @ Kansas — 2:30pm on FoxSportsRegional
    Saturday — Iowa St. @ Iowa — 2:30pm on BigTenNetwork
    Sunday — Wisconsin @ Oregon St. — 3pm on FX
    Monday — Washington @ LSU — 6pm on ESPN
    Tuesday — Arkansas @ La-Monroe — 6pm on ESPNU
    Wednesday — Neb. @ UCLA — 6:30pm on Fox
    Thursday — Army @ San Diego St. — 6:30pm on NBCSN
    Friday — Georgia @ Missouri — 7pm on ESPN2
    Saturday — Vanderbilt @ Northwestern — 7pm on BigTenNetwork
    Sunday — Illinois @ Arizona State — 9:30pm on ESPN

    • papadec - Sep 3, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      I believe the ND vs Purdue game is @ 3:30pm (ET).

  17. bw1980 - Sep 3, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Any word on what Mark May had to say about Pitt losing to FCS Youngstown State? Bwhahahahaha

  18. frankb51 - Sep 3, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    this article is a great idea!
    love to see what the “other guys” are doing

    secondary is in trouble; jackson and motta need to wake up….fast!
    good news is there is some fine young talent on this team and bk should not be afraid to use them
    especially devonte neal, he needs to be on the field, how about defensive side?

  19. irishbornraised - Sep 3, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    was actually going to try to get b/r to do this, figured it would work well with their slideshow format. However, this is exactly what makes this blog so great, you think like a fan because you are a fan!

  20. irish1958 - Sep 3, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    Lou says the greatest improvement occurs from week one to week two.
    I really hope so. This is a really good team and if they can avoid injuries, look out

    • nudeman - Sep 3, 2012 at 9:27 PM

      Let’s assume Lou is right
      I’m guessing that would apply to Purdue as well as ND, correct?

    • ndirish10 - Sep 4, 2012 at 3:35 PM

      I hope this not the case for SC and Matt Barkley. How much more can this guy improve? And for those who say that there is enough time for our ND secondary to grow and learn before Nov. 27th, guess what, SC can also grow and improve. Although, SC’s schedule is not as strong as ND’s. Go Irish!!! Beat Purdue!!!

  21. ndnphx - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Michigan State troubles me, only because they lead a charmed life in that stadium of theirs and that’s where we have to play them. But no matter what your take is on the first weekend, everybody we play is going to improve (especially somebody like Oklahoma), so I think it’s safe to say our strength of schedule is going to hold up.

    Besides, the only team we have to be good enough to whip this week is Purdue. I like our chances…

    • alsatiannd - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      Except in 2006:

    • alsatiannd - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      And as of 2006, ND has won 14 our of the last 17 games at MSU (according to Lee Corso’s youtube footprint).

  22. idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 3, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    Don’t know how many of you heard it, but BK’s teleconference yesterday can hopefully “put to bed” any ridiculous speculation that Tommy is going to compete for the #1….

    BK said, and i quote, “…him and Andrew, um, will get some work and kinda, you know, play it by ear as we go through the week. Because obviously they’re gonna be competing for that number two position going into this week.”

  23. yaketyyacc - Sep 4, 2012 at 7:40 AM

    the posts are right on the money. thanks posters. so there is nothing new to add. only to emphasize that we MUST improve significantly on pass defense. fortunately, for us, Purdue, the school that is prolific with passing quarterbacks, is just the right team to play. we’ll get an education in fast fashion.
    if we improve, as Barry Fitzgerald said in “Going my Way”, upon getting an overabundant collection basket: “Gratifying, very gratifying..

  24. alsatiannd - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Weak secondary? Get after that QB, hurry him, and when you catch him, smear the hell out of him. We got some guys who can do that. That’s certainly what USC did to TR last year: smeared him right out of the game. Whether they were late hits or not is a matter of interpretation.

  25. ndgoldandblue - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Coming into the season, I didn’t expect Purdue to be much more than what they were last year. However, a lot of pundits have been bullish on the Boilermakers. Then, they go out and throw the ball all over the field on Eastern Kentucky. Granted, it’s Eastern Kentucky, so it’s probably nothing to get overly excited about, but the concern still remains there for me. Is Purdue that much better this year than last? Is this game going to be a dogfight for the Irish? I mean, if their passing game is that much more improved and our secondary is…unpredictable at best, can we expect this game to be a shootout? With a new (albeit talented) quarterback, I don’t really like the prospects of trying to match a team score-for-score.

    • alsatiannd - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      Hunt the QB, kill the QB. Be relentless.

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