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Opposition round-up: Week Nine

Oct 30, 2012, 11:49 AM EDT

Marqise Lee, John Manoogian

Let’s take a stroll across college football and see how Notre Dame’s opponents did last week.

NAVY — If Notre Dame fans are feeling disappointed in their opponents, don’t look at Navy. After a rough start, the Midshipmen have rallied nicely, continuing that trend with a big victory over East Carolina. Navy put up a season-high 563 yards of offense, powered by Gee Gee Green and freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who had a pretty active passing stat-line, finishing 3 of 5 for 51 yards, managing to throw two touchdowns and one interception in that. The Navy defense held ECU to just 338 yards of total offense, controlling the clock for over 35 minutes.

Trending: Upwards. Navy is 5-3 and looking like a cinch for a bowl game, a proposition that looked shaky when the Midshipmen were sitting at 1-3.

PURDUE — Oh Purdue. The wheels are falling off the Boilermakers season with their fourth straight Big Ten loss. That dark-horse status can officially be taken outside and shot, with Purdue following up their heart-breaking loss to Ohio State by completing getting run out of Minneapolis on Saturday, trailing 34-7 at halftime. Caleb TerBush was absolutely awful, and by the time Robert Marve replaced him it was too late. Purdue’s supposedly stout defense let freshman quarterback Philip Nelson throw for three touchdowns and 246 yards in the 44-28 throttling.

Trending: A huge disappointment for Purdue, who needs to hand the reins of the offense over to Marve, a QB playing with a torn ACL.

MICHIGAN STATE — It may have set football back a half-century, but the Spartans “outlasted” No. 25 Wisconsin on Saturday 16-13 in overtime, thanks to some late game heroics from Andrew Maxwell and tight end Bennie Fowler. The Spartans’ defense was terrific against the Badgers, holding them to 190 total yards and holding Heisman finalist Montee Ball to just 46 yards on 22 carries. But the Spartans offense wasn’t much better, with Maxwell needing 39 throws to pass for 216 yards and Le’Veon Bell only ran for 3.7 yards a carry. The overtime victory threw the Big Ten’s title chase into chaos, and made the conference only look worse.

Trending: Ugly or not, a big victory of Mark Dantonio’s team, who already has four losses and needs to salvage the season.

MICHIGAN — Michigan fans got a glimpse of what life will be like without Denard Robinson. Needless to say, they weren’t pleased. The Wolverines lost to Nebraska 23-9, with their offense grinding to a halt after Robinson left with an injury late in the first half. Nebraska held the Wolverines offense at bay even with Robinson in the game, but feasted on Russell Bellomy, who went 3 of 16 passing for just 38 yards with three interceptions. It was a rude awakening and appropriately raised huge questions for the future of the Michigan offense in life after Denard.

Trending: Another step backwards for Michigan, though they are still in the thick of it in the Big Ten standings, and have a chance to end Ohio State’s ineligible dream season as well.

MIAMI — The Hurricanes were off on Saturday, taking a bye week after their showdown loss to Florida State before taking on Virginia Tech.

Trending: The week off hopefully settled a Hurricanes team that began its free fall after losing 41-3 to the Irish, dropping three in a row to get to 4-4.

No. 14 STANFORD — It wasn’t pretty for Stanford, but they escaped downtrodden Washington State with a 24-17 victory. The Cardinal defense did just about everything for Stanford, racking up 10 sacks and taking an interception back for a touchdown. Stephan Taylor couldn’t get going on the ground and Josh Nunes put up meager statistics, but it was a survive and advance game for the Cardinal, who get another cupcake match-up with Colorado before facing Oregon State, Oregon, and UCLA to end the regular season.

Trending: Notre Dame’s win against Stanford looks better and better with the Cardinal keeping their lofty ranking. They’ll need to earn it in the season’s final month.

BYU — A week after losing a tight one to the Irish, the Cougars roared past George Tech with an impressive 41-17 victory. Young running back Jamaal Williams scored four touchdowns and Riley Nelson ran and passed for two more as BYU dominated on offense while its stingy defense completely shut down the Yellow Jackets. Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense had only 12 first downs and 157 yards, managing just 40 through the air.

Trending: A nice rebound victory for Bronco Mendenhall’s team, who have Saturday off before facing Idaho, San Jose State, and New Mexico State, giving them a strong chance to salvage an eight-win regular season.

PITTSBURGH — The Panthers won their first Big East game of the season in style, dominating a surprising Temple team 47-17 thanks to Ray Graham’s three touchdowns. First-year head coach Paul Chryst is starting to see some consistency out of his team, who started the year with a loss to Youngstown State, but has rebounded to win four of their last six. Tino Sunseri completed 20 of 28 passes for three touchdowns and freshman running back Rushel Shell ran for 79 yards and a touchdown as well. It wasn’t all good news for the Panthers, who lost three players to season-ending injuries.

Trending: While the injuries could gut this team, the Panthers have two very good running backs. Quarterback Tino Sunseri is also playing the best football of his career with 13 touchdown passes and only two interceptions after an up-and-down career.

BOSTON COLLEGE — Chase Rettig’s 14-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute left beat Maryland and gave the Eagles just their second victory of the season. The Terps were down to their fourth-string quarterback on Saturday (who was also injured and lost for the season), but the Eagles were able to win with just 295 yards of offense, and only eight yards of rushing.

Trending: There was nowhere to go but up for Boston College, and the Eagles got a much needed victory against the injury-depleted Terps.

WAKE FOREST — The Demon Deacons got beaten badly by Clemson on Saturday 42-13, with Tajh Boyd throwing for five touchdowns and Sammy Watkins catching eight balls for 202 yards, as the Tigers racked up over 500 yards of offense. Tanner Price completed 27 of 44 passes for two touchdowns and Josh Harris ran for 76 yards on just ten carries but Wake Forest just couldn’t survive the Clemson onslaught, when the Tigers scored four touchdowns in the second quarter.

Trending: This doesn’t appear to be a very good Wake Forest defense, limiting just about any chance the Deacs have to be a good team. (Their offense isn’t too good either, ranking 92nd in passing and 112th in rushing yards.)

No. 17 USC — The Trojans were upset on Saturday by Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona squad, spoiling wide receiver Marqise Lee’s record-setting afternoon. USC had five turnovers and gave up 588 yards of offense, losing a 28-13 third quarter lead as the Wildcats scored 26 straight points before holding on for the victory. Matt Barkley threw for 493 yards in the losing effort as Lee has a ridiculous 16 catches for 345 yards. Lee had 12 catches for 255 yards in the first half alone.

Trending: We’re learning that the principles of football apply to the Trojans as well, with 13 penalties and five turnovers dooming USC and ending their dreams of a national title. They are set to face Oregon this Saturday in another huge test.

  1. dudeacow - Oct 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Dear USC:



  2. bernhtp - Oct 30, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    I might need to take drugs to root for USC against Oregon, but I will do what it takes.

    • 9irish - Oct 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      Roger that. A little help from them, that would also make ND look better when we beat them. LSU could help make things alot simpler, too.

    • joeschu - Oct 30, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      “Big picture thinking”

      Saddle up your OKSt Cowboy gear, USC Trojan sword, and LSU Tiger paw for Saturday.

      • papadec - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:36 AM

        joe – the thing is that any, or all, of those upsets are entirely possible! I’d be happy with any ONE of them – three would be unbelievable. Talk about party time?

    • mimefrog - Oct 30, 2012 at 5:27 PM

      I agree, but thinking about it made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

      “GO TROJ-hurhahraphphph …”

      Oh man.

      • bernhtp - Oct 30, 2012 at 5:37 PM

        Rooting for USC grates against all of my history and every moral fiber in my body, but I am so overdue for my Notre Dame NC fix, that I’ll do almost everything to get it.

      • 808raiderinparadise - Oct 30, 2012 at 5:43 PM

        They’re just condoms. Trojans are for ….

      • seadomer - Oct 30, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        I know how you feel.
        While I know a Trojan win will “help” ND, I just can’t

        What I CAN do is to hope the flu bug hits Eugene.

      • papadec - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:42 AM

        OK, OK, if rooting for usc over oregon gags you guys so much – wait until oregon plays Stanford or OSU (in the “Civil War”) at the end of the season. Fact is, only two of the three need to lose a game, with ND running the rack, to setup a NC game with ND in it.

  3. nudeman - Oct 30, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    5 turnovers and 13 penalties?
    Haden must be interviewing guys as we speak.
    Some USC stats (120 FBS teams):

    Total Offense: 36th ND: 69th
    Total Defense: 46th ND: 11
    Turnover Margin: 29th ND: 8th
    Fewest Penalties/Game: 120th ND: 37th

    • flandersst1 - Oct 30, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      Good stats Nudeman … but here’s my question: if Kiffin gets canned at USC where’s his next stop 1) White House?, 2) Dallas Cowboys Head Coach, 3) Owner of Apple? Every time he loses a job he gets offered more money for a better job despite all facts in evidence.

      • bernhtp - Oct 30, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        Kiffin might be just enough of a sociopath to qualify for door #1.

        Pat Haden has never been a fan, but I doubt he will make a change this year absent some scandal or historic replacement opportunity.

      • nudeman - Oct 30, 2012 at 2:00 PM

        1) Kiffin’s history is that HE is probably already looking elsewhere

        2) Probably no change after this yr – barring a major Kiffin transgression – because being on probation, Haden probably can’t get who he’d like to get.

        3) He’d be PERFECT for the Dallas Cowboys. Out of control, disorganized, undisciplined, but just enough kooky offensive sh** to make Jerry Jones think it will work.

      • gtizzo - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        I would bet Kiffin ends up a coordinator somewhere most likely on offense. He will need to lay low then take some struggling program as his next head coaching job. Maybe he replaces Charlie at Kansas? I heard a rumor (or maybe I plan to start one) that Nick Saban is next in line for the Dallas job.

  4. mtflsmitty - Oct 30, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    ND’s 2013 schedule: Before and After Freak Show

  5. mtflsmitty - Oct 30, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Anzalone to be in SB this weekend. For the game? No. He’ll be arriving with his parents long after the football hoopla ends. Sunday and Monday meetings with coaches and Admissions. Suggestive of significant progress toward enrolling early (which is his intention) at ND.

    Again, good luck to the young man wherever his future lies.

  6. ndgoldandblue - Oct 30, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Quick question or two for anyone in the know. Since their abysmal start, I haven’t really been following Pitt, so I don’t know what the current product looks like. Is Temple’s defense that bad, or has Pitt’s offense improved that much?

    I’m looking at Temple’s schedule, and they’ve given up quite a bit of points to teams that you wouldn’t consider to be offensive juggernauts, like Maryland. However, from what I’ve been reading, Sunseri appears to be having a hell of a year. Apparently, he’s in the top ten in terms of QB efficiency. Although, looking at Pitt’s schedule, there isn’t much there to be impressed with, and I imagine Golson’s efficiency rating would be comparable if we had swapped schedules.

    So, for those who’ve watched them play lately, any chance Pitt wins this game?

    • flandersst1 - Oct 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      ndgoldandblue … I live in Pittsburgh and am a graduate student at Pitt; Pitt doesn’t have too much going on. On a plus note, I’ll buy season tickets again next year so that I can go when ND comes to town.

    • seadomer - Oct 30, 2012 at 5:54 PM

      Here are all the scores of our opponents BEFORE they play ND

      Purdue 48, Mich S 41, Mich 63, Miami 44, Stanford 54, BYU 24, OK 52, Pitt 47

      Here are all the scores WHEN they play the IRISH:

      17, 3, 6, 3, 13, 14, 13, (?)

      • nudeman - Oct 30, 2012 at 7:46 PM

        I’m predicting a “come down to Earth” game for the Irish offense

        ND 23
        Pitt 9

      • gtizzo - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        If the best Pitt has to offer is a running attack my guess would be three or zero. Michigan State and Stanford couldn’t beat the Irish on the ground something tells me Pitt won’t either.

  7. runners00 - Oct 30, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    I’m not a regular reader of the Wall Street Journal but I thought I’d mention that they covered the ND/OU game on Saturday night and have an excellent summary of it.

    One thing we should all note: While Oklahoma is strong, they’d already lost to K-State and were not as dominant as sports writers and Vegas people thought. These are the same folks that predicted that Michigan State would be a powerhouse this year and that Michigan would be strong, too.

    I make the point not to rain on our parade but simply to point out that nobody really knows how good anyone is until games are played. Saturday night, we were pretty tough.

    Could we beat Oregon or Alabama? I’d like to think so but I have no idea.And while I think that, if we beat the remaining opponents, we deserve to play in the title game, I’m not expecting this. The sports writers and coaches are big components of the BCS. And these are the same people that said Oklahoma would win by 10 points and that Michigan State and Michigan and Stanford would beat us, too. They’er the same folks that said that USC had an easy schedule and would play for the championship too. I don’t have a lot of faith in these people.

    This is not going to get me too down — as I think the players will continue to show how strong this team is by knocking around Pitt next weekend.

    • bernhtp - Oct 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      I get so tired of hearing how great our opponents are and how they are going to kick our ass until they lose, and then, of course, the spin becomes that they were never any good. Mike Golic had a wonderful (and long) rant about this yesterday on Mike and Mike.

      Who the hell has Oregon played? Mike Frank had a great quip yesterday on Power Hour: the ND defense would score 70 against Colorado.

      • runners00 - Oct 30, 2012 at 3:41 PM

        I agree – Oregon hasn’t played anyone. But in college football, the sports writers are in charge. I mean, they frame the issues.

        I think that some of these teams will lose. Southern Cal may beat Oregon. K-State will have trouble, too. LSU could beat Alabama as well. I think it’s in Baton Rouge this year. Wait till that happens. All these guys will be saying how great Alabama is and how unfair this system is when the best teams don’t have a shot.

        To Golic’s point, the opposite is true, too. When an SEC school loses to another SEC school, the sports writers say, “look how good the SEC is!” When an SEC wins across the board, the answer is, “Look how good Alabama is – they beat everyone in the SEC!”

    • dickasman - Oct 30, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      Oddly enough, I think we match up better against Alabama than Oregon. Alabama plays more like us, there are no surprises. I’ve seen some Oregon games is year and they probably have the most talented and fastest athletes that nobody has. I just think match up wise we are better against bama

      • 808raiderinparadise - Oct 30, 2012 at 5:49 PM

        I see your thinking …..
        I disagree.

        Alabama has 3 first team all -american OL on that line.
        That could negate our best strength our front 7.
        ND would blow-up oregons shifty zone scheme type athletic linemen all over the field., anyways Oregon hasn’t played a team yet till this Saturday.

        I’d rather play the gimmick offensive teams. Standford was smashmouth and we barely won at home…. BAMA is powerful rather not play them, rather see them lose.

  8. seadomer - Oct 30, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    Ok guys, ….. slow down on the Oregon or Bama or K state scenarios,

    While important lets really show up at home with Pitt and be up by 4TDs before the half, then throttle on with 2nd team.

    We need to sway some human voters

    • gtizzo - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      I agree we need to put up some big points in the next 3 games.

  9. ajw21 - Oct 30, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Anyone know why we seem to struggle at home? I cant complain cus 8-0 is awesome but in 4 game at ND stadium the largest victory is 7. Away from home our closest victory is 13 or 17. I am semi worried about Pitt for this reason. Any insight to why we have trouble at home? Our away schedule has been tougher this year as well.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Oct 30, 2012 at 6:09 PM

      The grass hasn’t been trimmed properly.

    • seadomer - Oct 30, 2012 at 6:42 PM

      Yep, we noticed that effect here too.

      I was wondering if there were any pregame diet on the players or not enough hecklers and booing by opposing fans to stir up some emotions instead of everyone patting their backs.

    • bernhtp - Oct 30, 2012 at 9:18 PM

      Home vs. away:

      1. Teams coming to Notre Dame are like Muslims going to Mecca for the first time. They are inspired and bring their A game.

      2. Home games provide lots of distractions for the players. They need to deal with relatives and tickets, events like the pep rally, and all of the other tumult surrounding a home game. These kids all have extreme time-management challenges and it’s easier being in a distant hotel, knowing no one, than at Notre Dame during a football week.

      • ndgoldandblue - Oct 30, 2012 at 10:25 PM

        I wholeheartedly agree with your second point, and I referenced this anomaly when predicting an ND victory over Oklahoma last week. All year, these guys have been Mel Gibson’s Mad Max–road warriors. And I think the reason behind this is all the pre-game/game-day rituals and distractions. I agree that it could be time-management issues, but I think the bigger influence behind the problem is the psychological effect it has on the players.

        I may be reaching here, but I think everything that goes into home games adds pressure to the younger guys, Golson in particular. There’s the pep rally, all the alumni in town, high school recruits showing up and watching you with interest, the morning mass, the walk to the stadium, all the fans (maybe mom and dad) who are there to watch you “win”, and last (but not least) the aura of Notre Dame Stadium. The older guys, like Eifert and Teo, aren’t affected by all the home-game hoopla, but I imagine it’s quite a mind job for the younger guys.

  10. irishdodger - Oct 30, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Other than SC, Pitt will be our biggest threat. I’m confident that BK & staff will do everything possible to ensure they take the Panthers seriously. I heard Rick Neuheisel ask Joe Theismann on the radio, “ND loses to Pittsburgh why?” Without hesitating, he said “turnovers”. That’s what I believe too.

    As far as SC, they will get beat by Oregon and continue to play undisciplined football for the remainder of their schedule until ND rolls into town. At that point, I expect nothing less than the Trojans best performance of the year w/o all the penalties & turnovers that have plagued them this year. ND needs to TCB & then go into the Coliseum expecting a pissed off, motivated SC looking to ruin NDs season.

    • gtizzo - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      Actually as ND fans we should hope USC upsets Oregon. USC beats Oregon and ND beats USC it makes ND look a little better. Oregon and USC and going to meet again in the conference title game. Personally I would prefer a one loss Oregon team in that game.

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