News, thoughts and more from the world of college sports across the nation and Long Island.
Games to watch this weekend
Here are a few weekend matchups to look forward to.
No. 14 Notre Dame @ No. 17 Michigan, 8:00: This game isn’t likely to have any national title implications, but a road win in a hostile stadium would be just what Notre Dame needs. Tommy Rees was efficient in the Fighting Irish’s 28-6 win over Temple, completing 16 of 23 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The competition on the other side of the ball will be better, but Rees is out to prove he should be the one to lead the Irish. Michigan routed Central Michigan, 59-9, putting forth its highest scoring output since 1905. It won’t be that easy this weekend for the Wolverines. It’ll especially be difficult if junior quarterback Devin Gardner turns the ball over. He threw two interceptions in last Saturday’s win. A repeat performance will mean a loss for the Wolverines. College football fans should take note that this will be Notre Dame’s last trip to Ann Arbor for a while. The series will end after the 2014 season. The Fighting Irish pointed to their five-game ACC schedule as a prime reason.
The rivalry ending prompted a war of words (indirectly) between Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and Michigan’s head man Brady Hoke going back several months. Hoke said during a luncheon in May that Notre Dame was “chickening out” of the rivalry. Kelly said Sunday that he thought of Notre Dame-Michigan as a “big regional game”. He’s since backed off those statements, but it might be too late for that.
No. 12 Florida @ Miami, Noon: This on-again, off-again rivalry is fierce. While it isn’t a battle for bragging rights (Florida State has that honor now), it could go a long way in determining how things shake out in the ACC. Florida will have highly touted sophomore running back Matt Jones back. Jones missed the Gators’ opener recovering from a viral sickness. Florida survived without Jones, topping Toledo, 24-6. But Jones makes the Gator offense that much more explosive. Miami is hoping top running back Duke Johnson is 100 percent after missing the second half of last week’s win over Florida Atlantic. Johnson had 186 yards rushing. Neither team is as strong as it once was, but it’s still a matchup worth paying attention to.
Much like the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry, this could be the last time for a long time these two schools meet in the regular season. Once the SEC moves to a nine-game schedule, it will force the Gators to eliminate a non-conference game. Based on the way SEC teams schedule non-conference games, you can be sure Florida will dump Miami, especially since the Gators play Florida State every season.
No. 6 South Carolina @ No. 11 Georgia, 4:30: If the Bulldogs can’t slow down South Carolina, they’ll start the season 0-2 and be all but out of the national championship picture. Georgia had no answers or Tajh Boyd and Clemson. It’s noting that South Carolina has handed Georgia its last two SEC losses. It’s also worth noting that the Bulldogs have dropped three straight to the Gamecocks. As for South Carolina, its 27-10 win over North Carolina left a few things to be desired. All-world defensive lineman and Heisman Trophy candidate Jadeveon Clowney didn’t live up to the hype. He’ll need to this weekend to stop a Georgia that accumulated 545 yards.