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Opposition round-up: Week seven

Oct 16, 2012, 3:41 PM EDT

Texas v Oklahoma Getty Images

Oklahoma stepped forward while Purdue and Michigan State stepped backwards. Oklahoma’s offense looked to be in peak form while USC’s defense did the job against Washington. As the season continues, the Irish schedule continues to come into focus.

Let’s take a look at how Notre Dame’s opponents did over the weekend.

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NAVY — A vintage Navy victory this weekend, bringing the Midshipmen back to .500 on the season as they went into Brian Kelly’s old house and beat up Central Michigan. With Navy able to run the ball effectively, they used the playaction pass as the knockout blow, and freshman Keenan Reynolds threw three touchdown passes — all three on relatively deep shots — to run away from the Chippewas.

Trending: A great win for Ken Niumatalolo’s squad, who played much better defense as they held CMU to just 12 first downs and 221 yards while controlling the clock.

PURDUE — The Boilermakers got off to a quick start against Wisconsin, scoring in the game’s first minute. But after that it was all Montee Ball, as the Badgers rolled over Purdue, sticking the proverbial fork in the hopes that the Boilermakers would be a Big Ten dark horse. Caleb TerBush was just 7 of 16 for 80 yards and one interception, and Robert Marve and Rob Henry weren’t much better. Purdue is now 3-3 and 0-2 in the Big Ten.

Trending: Another big step backwards for Purdue, after the season started off with relatively high hopes. It seems the old adage about having two quarterbacks is true when the number is three as well.

MICHIGAN STATE — After playing roulette last weekend with an inferior opponent, the Spartans struck out against Iowa, with the Hawkeyes tying the game up with a touchdown in the game’s final minute and then winning in double-OT when quarterback Andrew Maxwell was picked off. Maxwell completed only 12 of 31 passes for 179 yards, while Le’Veon Bell ran for 140 and a score. That’s two losses for the Spartans in Big Ten play with their annual grudge match with Michigan set for this weekend.

Trending: A really disappointing loss for Sparty in the rain, who is looking like one of the biggest disappointments of the first 1/2 season.

No. 23 MICHIGAN — What cures the Wolverines’ ills? How about some Big Ten competition. A week after pasting Purdue, it was the Denard Robinson show all over again, running and throwing for four total touchdowns on his way to steamrolling downtrodden Illinois. It could’ve been more if Robinson didn’t exit the game briefly in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury. Michigan’s defense was even more dominating, holding the Ilini to just 134 yards and seven first downs. Illinois had just 29 yards of passing.

Trending: The Wolverines climbed their way back into the top 25 this week. If they can beat Michigan State for the first time in five seasons, they might turn themselves back into the Big Ten’s best team, with the ineligible Buckeyes hoping to play spoilers.

MIAMI — A week after getting shut down by the Notre Dame defense, Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels did the same against the Hurricanes, holding Stephen Morris to just 12 of 26 passing and two interceptions. Morris hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter and the ‘Canes couldn’t rally as North Carolina climbed to 5-2 on the season. Another game, another offense runs for 250+ against the Hurricanes defense, as former Notre Dame commitment Gio Bernard went for 177 and two touchdowns.

Trending: It’s a step back for Al Golden’s young Canes, but probably more of a leveling out.

BYU — In a game that was closer than it looked, No. 10 Oregon State ran away from BYU in the fourth quarter, pulling away after the Cougars pulled even at 21 late in the third quarter. Senior Riley Nelson completed 28 of 51 throws for 305 yards, but was intercepted three times. Oregon State also managed to put up 450 yards of offense on the stingy Cougars defense.

Trending: BYU feels like a really dangerous three loss team. They probably feel like they should have victories against Boise State and Utah, and were in this game until the fourth quarter against an undefeated Oregon State team.

No. 10 OKLAHOMA — The Red River Shootout was a beat down, with the Sooners playing their most impressive game of the season against their rival Longhorns. While I expected the Sooners to win, a 36-2 halftime score raised some eyebrows, as the Sooners absolutely shredded the Texas defense for an astonishing 677 yards. Landry Jones threw for 321 yards and the Oklahoma ground game got more than healthy, running for 343 on 51 carries.

Trending: It didn’t take long for ABC to turn this game into a national, primetime broadcast. The farther the Sooner’s loss gets in the rear-view mirror the better they look. With the Irish heading into Norman next weekend, it should be a really intriguing match-up.

PITTSBURGH — Pitt came out swinging against Louisville, but the No. 18 Cardinals rallied with three unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter to run away with the win in a high scoring affair, 45-35. Pitt is certainly getting better, with Tino Sunseri putting together an impressive stat line with 28 of 37 passing for 287 and two touchdowns. Freshman running back Rushel Shell took control of the ground game, gaining 96 yards on 18 carries. But Senorise Perry’s four touchdowns were too much to overcome.

Trending: There aren’t moral victories in college football, but Pitt certainly is looking better than they did early in the year. Whether Ray Graham is slow to recover from an ACL injury or Rushel Shell is really good, Pitt seems to have found a running back, now they just need to solidify their offensive line and defense.

BOSTON COLLEGE — Another ugly loss for Boston College, getting beat down by Florida State 51-7 as the Seminoles took out some frustrations on the downtrodden Eagles. E.J. Manuel threw for 439 yards against BC, racking up 649 yards while Chase Rettig and company only managed seven points and 225 total yards. Junior running back Andre Williams offered the only silver lining, running for 104 yards after running for 191 against Army.

Trending: The Eagles’ season is an unmitigated disaster. Their lone victory is against Maine. The Frank Spaziani hot seat is now engulfed in flames.

WAKE FOREST — The Demon Deacons had the weekend off, staying at 3-3 and 1-3 in the ACC. They face Virginia and Clemson over the next two weekends.

Trending: Staying put.

No. 11 USC — Nothing all that impressive offensively from USC, though their ground game put together a nice effort behind Silas Redd’s 155 yards and a touchdown. Still, Matt Barkley can’t be doing his draft stock any good with a 10 for 20 day for 167 yards with one touchdown and interception. Still, the Trojans defense is coming together, holding Washington to 299 yards, and SC got a punt block in the second quarter to extend their lead to 24-7, letting their defense do the rest.

Trending: Upwards. You get the feeling that USC’s offense will play well enough to win against Notre Dame come November. But if their defense can keep making progress, the Trojans will be one last gigantic obstacle in the way of the Irish.

  1. kiopta1 - Oct 16, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    I say bring em on! Go Irish! Your only a great team when you can play and beat great teams.

  2. 9irish - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Good stuff, Keith.
    I want all of those that we have beat to start winning, and all that we will play to start/keep winning! Don’ want them coming in all desperate to save their season….it’s like Navy going 1-9 and going to play Army or something….Army would be nervous.

  3. dudeacow - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Somehow, Barkley is still 8th in the Heisman watch. He is a good quarterback but in no way in contention for the Heisman. Te’o, on the other hand, is in a much better place at 4th.
    http://espn.go.com/college-football/heisman/

    I think ND will shut someone out this year, but I don’t know who. My best guess is Wake Forest on Senior Day.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:11 PM

      BYU will be a shut-out.

      Mark it down. 5 striaght games without a TD given up.

      BYU has some seriously sketchy QB’s … and that the D, which has been their strenght got worked last week.

  4. 808raiderinparadise - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    10 of 20 for 167 for Barkley?

    WoW. What an overrated USC QB he has been this year.

    OK is the hardest task, OK rarely looses in Norman and USC while a tough game, has a solid amount of ND fans present usually. I think our pass rush can beat USC’s slow offensive line, they are power blockers and our d -line has size and finnesse to pursue Barkley. Its the WR’s I worry about. they can take a bubble screen or hitch to the house at any moment.

    • joeschu - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      To beat USC’s skill guys is going to take another great effort from Motta. Easily the most improved player on the roster, if he takes the angles he’s been taking and lays the wood vs. USC, we should be ok.

      It would be damn foolish to get that far ahead of ourselves (even to OU). One game at a time. Most reasonable people saw 8-5, 9-4 at best. This 6-0 start is FABULOUS, but there is a LOT of season left. Enthusiasm is great. The energy in the program is phenomenal.

      Just this time, however, let’s not do the ND thing where we declare we’re back, bitch about being under-valued, and set our expectations so stupidly high that when something less than perfect happens we all explode in dramatic fashion.

      Let’s be smart. Let’s love that we’ve won 6 great games. Let’s be excited for this week’s test vs. LSU, and let’s appreciate a really fun, gritty team continue to grind on week after week.

      • 808raiderinparadise - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:37 PM

        LSU?

        yeah … BYU.

        I follow your consciousness, but all the media has done is beat up ND for not being releveant in recent years, and once they are, then they beat them up for that too. LoL

        4 straight games without giving up a TD and now it will be 5 … if any SEC, USC, Ohio St. type team had that going for them the media would not stop with the praise.

        I vomitted listening to people saying Oregon has a top 20 defense this year, talking about how they stop the run, blah, blah,blah …. what a joke.

      • bogtrottin - Oct 17, 2012 at 12:17 AM

        By LSU, I can only assume you meant Latter-day Saints University.

      • joeschu - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:58 AM

        Thanks for the correction… I had LSU on the brain based on a post I did somewhere else. I appreciate the stretch into the Later Day Saints thing, but I meant BYU.

        My point is less about the media and more about the core of the university. Alumni, donors, students, etc.

        There is a “thing” we all do, where we forget that this is a process, and forget that 99.9% of schools would LOVE to have the “problems” our program has (huge revenues, great fan base, all the historic wins, etc). Once we get a little glimmer of the top spot, we’re so quick to say that anything other than a 40 point blow out win in the title game is a failure and start warming up the coach’s seat.

        My point: Enjoy the ride. Don’t give a crap about what the media. Let’s be honest. By “media” we mean ESPN, and they have a commercial bias against ND. We play on another network 6+ times/year, they NEED us to be irrelevant. If you ignore that noise, you can simply appreciate a bunch of guys playing their guts out, and a coaching staff that seems to exude stability and a process that’s building a sustainable winner. They’re doing it all for the Lady on the Dome, and whether or not they drop 1 (or 3) on the way down the stretch this year, I can see the progress, and I’m thrilled.

        Not that I won’t scream for more touches for Wood and to run a damn screen once and a while, but I’m still enjoying it ;-)

  5. ndfan4ever - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    We need to find some offense soon. With the way there are playing turning the ball over will cost us down the line somewhere like OU. Our defense is great but you can’t keep putting them on the field all day long. EG still looks confused out there at times along with some poor play calls aren’t helping him. We can’t afford to over look anyone on this schedule or we might get shcked and thats not good. Go Irish..

    • paiten34 - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:09 PM

      Golson didn’t play that bad VS Stanford. Remember Stanford’s defense beat down on Barkley bad making him force throws and play a bad game. So for Golson to play Stanford to a tie game making some nice throws in the process and making key plays with his feet.

      Golson did have three fumbles but one looked like a not very good snap that might never have reached Golsons hands. Another was a hard blind side hit that many QBs might have lost. The last fumble was a perfect hit putting his helmet directly onto the ball Golson was carrying.

      Yes all three plays could have be prevented but the kid is just a sophomore playing in his sixth game. Over all he played a good game and all his mistakes are coach able to be fixed.

  6. nudeman - Oct 16, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    ND’s schedule has underperformed.

    Navy: Saw some of that game and that QB looked pretty good; but they’re Navy
    Purdue: Disappointing year after giving ND fits.
    MSU: Billed by many as the top team in the Big 10. Not so fast my friend.
    UM: Legit top 25 but that’s about the best you can say about them.
    Miami: Horrific defense; not your daddy’s Miami
    Stanford: Legit top 25 team, but not the SU of recent years with Luck & Harbaugh
    BYU: I recall early in the year many being afraid of this game. Still don’t get that.
    Pitt: “Terrible”; maybe progressing to “just plain bad”. Maybe. Possibly. And Maybe not.
    BC: Terrible. RE-gressing to “unwatchable”. AFter that, next step is “drop football”
    WF: They’re WF. Unless Tim Duncan is playing, nothing to worry about
    USC: Still USC and it’s still the fu*%^ng Coliseum. But not having a USC-esque year.

    Oklahoma: They are the ONLY ones who still look like the real deal.

    So if you get in any strength of schedule arguments, might be a good idea to change the topic.

    • don74 - Oct 16, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      Nude,

      Agree with most of the assessment. Kelly talked about the difficultly of understanding what Purdue was going to do defensively during today’s presser. He was asked about BYU and not having played them. His point was Bronco has been coach for a couple of years and prior to that was DC so they know what BYU will do. He finishied the statement with “it’s not like Purdue where we couldn’t get a handle on what to expect”.

      Pitt has a new coach. I expect them to improve week over week. Not saying it will be a problem but they will not be Miami or BC. Wake lost two starters during their off week to rules infractions.

      SC in the Coliseum is going to be interesting. ND seemed in awe of SC last year at home. They turned it around after winning. My guess is the bulletin board will remind them that according to SC “they quit and wanted the game to be over”. Somehow I think Manti’s last regular season game is going to be a different story.

      Manti vs the Belldozer should be fun.

      I think BYU is going to be tougher than we think but a win for the good guys.

      • nudeman - Oct 16, 2012 at 6:54 PM

        I’m sticking with my 23-9 prediction
        I was actually pretty close last wk; I had it at 23-14 and it was 20-13

    • bernhtp - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      Ignoring the losses to ND for obvious reasons, we’ve had underperforms (relative to preseason expectations) from MSU, USC, and Oklahoma. OU and USC were not expected to lose yet, and MSU lost one more than expected.

      Stanford is as expected – the win against USC and the loss the Washington cancel out. No one expected Michigan to beat Alabama, so they are on par with expectations.

      The rest are about as expected or don’t matter.

      Much of the suffering of our SOS comes at our own hands, and that’s a good thing.

    • dudeacow - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:26 PM

      I agree, our schedule isn’t the hardest in CFB, but it’s still in the top 5.

    • NotreDan - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:34 PM

      NudieMON;

      (disclaimer, using AP not BCS, and I haven’t actually done this research, but I think I’m right)

      While our schedule has technically under-performed, at this point in the season I believe we are the only team that has at least 2 past opponents that we beat in the top 25, and at least 2 future opponents in the top 11 (damn it would have been cleaner if USC and OK were in top 10, oh well).

      I watch every ND game with my brother even though we are 500 miles apart (we send probably 50 texts throughout the game) and we have both remarked how totally different this year is for all of I-A. Good timing for us? Maybe. Ever consider the effect losing to us had on some of those teams?

      I absolutely can’t wait for OK (yes looking ahead) because by then we will finally have more answers than questions.

      • nudeman - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:46 PM

        NDDan and others
        I am NOT making the point that ND has a soft schedule
        For example MSU is still a very respectable team, and playing them in E Lansing ANY YEAR is a challenge.
        UM isn’t exactly dog meat, nor is BYU or even Purdue

        At the beginning of the year we expected several of these teams to be stronger
        It’s still a tough schedule

        Jesus … some of those SEC schools play teams I’ve never heard of
        Towson? LA Monroe? Cookman? Rectal U?

        Ridiculous

      • c4evr - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:28 PM

        Yes Nude, but don’t forget, part of ND’s upward movement through the polls is compliments of the SEC elite knocking each other around. Alabama is staring straight at LSU and Miss. St. while trying not to overlook Tennessee. And Florida has South Carolina this week. Bottom line is they do have a few patsies on their schedules, but they also top to bottom field the best teams in the NCAA. And while it looks like a majority of Irish opponents are proving to have been overrated this year, rest assured a one loss SEC elite team is still on par with the Kansas States and the Oregons. ND appears headed toward a lock for a BCS and a likely matchup with one of those one-loss SEC teams and we’ll finally get some answers to where this team stands.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:14 PM

        Buddy of mine went to Rectal, he’s a proctologist now.

  7. gtizzo - Oct 16, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    I wouldn’t be so quick on USC. Barkley got sacked twice in that game and Washington’s defensive line isn’t anywhere near as talented as Notre Dame’s. Keep in mind Texas has taken a beating from Oklahoma before 2011,2003 and 2000. Texas has problems with tackling it is the biggest knock on there defense that is otherwise very talented. Getting pressure on Jones and Barkley is key to the Irish winning either game. That defensive line can get some sacks and the Irish can drop seven and a win is possible. ND should have the upper hand up front against BYU on both sides of the ball. Expect a slow start but the Irish play a clean game (no turnovers) and a victory is assured.

  8. kiopta1 - Oct 16, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    So who will score the first TD against ND and who will score the first rush TD ? (With regards to the streak)

    • dudeacow - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      OK will score the touchdown and break the 5 game streak and Pitt will score the first rushing touchdown when ND’s backups are in late in the 4th quarter.

  9. audiguy - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Don’t forget we are everyone else’s biggest game. Tough to quantify that but it is real. I just talked to some OU fans. They are going crazy about the game in Norman. As big as Texas to them

    • 9irish - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:29 PM

      absolutely right. It could make the season for the others, and save the season for OU or USC.

      Boston College…you don’t think those peckerheads have that date scheduled? They suck apparently, but it’s like walking thru a damn minefield. We have to bring the A game every week.

      Go Irish

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:19 PM

        You’re right, they will play like they have absolutely nothing to lose….which is the case.

  10. irishdodger - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    Way to go, Sparty…good luck in the Liberty Bowl….Memphis is a wonderful destination for family fun.

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