Posted September 04, 2011

Snap Judgments II: Storm warning for Irish

Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Snap Judgments

Theo Riddick and the Notre Dame offense couldn’t hit their stride against South Florida. (US PRESSWIRE)

 South Florida 23, No. 16 Notre Dame 21: Considering all the time Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish had to adjust to Skip Holtz’s Bulls — today’s game was one of several that saw play suspended due to high-powered storm systems moving through the Midwest — they failed to take discernible advantage. South Florida twice held 16-point leads over its vaunted host, who was left trailing 16-0 at halftime and 23-7 early in the fourth quarter.

The Irish were off to a bad start when Jonas Gray fumbled deep in USF territory and Kayvon Webster returned the loose ball for a 96-yard score not even four minutes after the whistle. South Florida’s offense was kept at a respectable distance for the remainder of the half, but three Maikon Bonani field goals built what would turn out to be an unnavigable impasse between the Big East upstarts and the Returning To Glory train. (No word on whether Lou Holtz might be reconsidering his chosen rooting interests.)

On the South Bend edition of the traditional early season quarterback shuffle: Dayne Crist went 7-of-15 for 95 yards in early play, and was replaced in the second half by Tommy Rees, who racked up 296 passing yards in two quarters and at least threw two touchdowns to counterbalance his two interceptions. The final score came with 40 seconds remaining, and featured Michael Floyd on the receiving end, whom some of you may have heard of.

Is South Florida, as Stewart Mandel predicted, bound for a BCS berth come January, or was this just a hiccup en route to bowl-game glory for the Fighting Irish? (RECAP | BOX)

 No. 25 USC 19, Minnesota 17: It occurred to me Friday that we’ve never really gotten to see what a second-year team looks like under Lane Kiffin, be it in the college or pro ranks. And for the first half of the Trojans’ season opener against Minnesota, it looked like we might have a pretty good idea. Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray was sacked four times. Matt Barkley’s rapport with sophomore phenom Robert Woods continued to bloom, and somewhere on the way to throwing three touchdown passes in the latter’s general direction, the former set a school record for pass completions with 34 to eight receivers for 304 yards (177 of those co-credited to Woods).

All was humming at the expense of the Golden Gophers and first-year head coach Jerry Kill. (Haters and poor math students, take cold comfort in the fact that Kiffin’s predilection for two-point conversions is still failing to pay real dividends on the scoreboard.) There is, however, the question of the second half, which began with USC leading 19-3, contained two Minnesota touchdowns and none for the Trojans, and ended only when backup Gophers quarterback Max Shortell (who threw the second touchdown) was intercepted in his own territory.

Which Trojans are the real Trojans? We’re not likely to find out soon; USC’s schedule is appallingly back-loaded, with Notre Dame, Stanford and Oregon all lurking past mid-October. (RECAP | BOX)

 Michigan 34, Western Michigan 10: Here’s something you thankfully don’t see every day: a game called on account of lightning. With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Wolverines leading the Broncos 34-10, play was halted and did not resume. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)

 Houston 38, UCLA 34: That Case Keenum For Heisman bandwagon has plenty of seats, if you enjoy pinball numbers and want to ride along. And in UCLA quarterbacking news, it will surprise absolutely no one to learn that the Bruins have lost another signal-caller. In what’s becoming a terrible, inevitable fall tradition, Kevin Prince was concussed out of the game, yielding to backup (and occasional starter himself) Richard Brehaut … who served as unproud participant in a fumble just two minutes later on a handoff to Jordon James. Brehaut went on, however, to account for three of UCLA’s touchdowns, with passes to Joseph Fauria and Anthony Barr as well as a one-yard rushing score of his own. The Cougars were actually outgained by the Bruins, 554 to 486.

Now let us focus instead on the finer things in life, such as the return of Houston’s war machine. Keenum remained on the field for the entire game, completing 30-of-40 passes for 309 yards and one score. The running game Houston was forced to turn to last season in the absence of both Keenum and his backup recorded most of the scoreboard notches, with Michael Hayes punching in two touchdowns and Bryce Beall adding one. (RECAP | BOX)

 Sacramento State 29, Oregon State 28 (OT): Is this the ridiculous-upsettiest Week 1 since 2008, or what? The last time you saw SacState, it was probably serving as Stanford’s early season creampuff last September in a 52-17 loss. This is the first time the Hornets have beaten an FBS team since 2002. And it’s perhaps the first time of many that the absence of both Rodgers brothers (Jacquizz to the draft and James to a knee injury) will be felt in 2011. (RECAP | BOX)

 BYU 14, Ole Miss 13: The first thing you need to know about this game is that Ole Miss’ kicker is named Bryson Rose, which is the most Ole Miss name in recorded human history. He also happens to be responsible for two of the Rebs’ three scores tonight in Oxford, booting field goals of 20 and 29 yards. No offensive player scored for Mississippi tonight (the lone touchdown came by virtue of Charles Sawyer’s entertaining 97-yard interception return), which shouldn’t be all that surprising, since the Rebels may not have a single quarterback remaining on their roster. I’ll have to check. (RECAP | BOX)

 Washington State 64, Idaho State 21: This is not a game that’s likely to have far-reaching ramifications in the 2011 football season, but do note that starting Cougars quarterback Jeff Tuel broke his clavicle on something like the fifth play of the game, and his team went on to score 64 points in his honor. WSU gained 588 yards of total offense despite going 4-11 on third-down conversions, which should tell you something about Idaho State and Washington State both. (RECAP | BOX)

 Colorado State 14, New Mexico 10: Will you look at that. New Mexico almost beat somebody! (RECAP | BOX)

 And now, for teams who actually handled their creamy-middled appetizers: No. 6 Florida State, No. 10 Nebraska and No. 7 Stanford handled Louisiana Monroe, Chattanooga and San Jose State with nary a hitch, recording final scores of 34-0, 40-7 and 57-3, respectively.

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