Michigan hosting Notre Dame and South Carolina traveling to winless Georgia on Week 2 of the college football schedule? Yes, please.
While most of the college football world takes the opening weeks of the season “off,” we’re still privy to plenty of exciting action. OK, we’re just happy to have football back at all, so we’re rationalizing.
But we aren’t lying by saying these two games are going to keep this weekend entertaining.
Whether you love or hate the polarizing Southeastern Conference or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, you’re about to witness some pretty dramatic football this weekend. We should probably take a look at the matchups now; let’s do that.
No. 6 South Carolina (1-0) at No. 11 Georgia (0-1)
Things could quickly get really bad for the Georgia Bulldogs. A second consecutive loss would all but eliminate the hopeful school from BCS title contention in the early stages of its 2013 campaign.
Luckily, though, time is working in the Bulldogs' favor. Despite dropping their opener to top-10 Clemson, Georgia can still salvage its season with a win over South Carolina. Even with a loss, the Bulldogs could potentially make a run. Losing early has its advantages, especially in the unpredictable college football world.
But can they topple the Gamecocks?
Losing standout wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell for the season, per team announcement on Twitter, certainly hurts their chances:
Coach Richt speaking with the media on Sunday: "Malcolm (Mitchell) unfortunately has an ACL injury..Not sure when we'll do the surgery."— Georgia Bulldogs (@UGAAthletics) September 1, 2013
Mitchell tore his ACL while celebrating Todd Gurley’s 75-yard touchdown run just over five minutes into the action against Clemson. Without him, quarterback Aaron Murray still managed to put up over 300 yards passing but didn’t find the end zone once against the Tigers.
Georgia will have a much harder task against South Carolina’s vaunted pass rush and accomplished secondary. Last week, the Gamecocks stifled hopeful NFL quarterback Bryn Renner. The senior quarterback completed just 26 of his 43 passes for 194 yards and one score.
The challenge couldn’t be tougher.
South Carolina should be able to dictate the pace of the game by slowing the Bulldogs’ rushing attack. The Gamecocks surrendered just 99 yards to the Tar Heels in Week 1. Without Mitchell, and Gurley facing a tougher challenge, it doesn’t look promising for Georgia. Expect another early loss for the school as it moves forward searching for answers on both sides of the ball.
No. 14 Notre Dame (1-0) at No. 17 Michigan (1-0)
Notre Dame and Michigan have been a long and storied rivalry since their first meeting in 1887, no matter what Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly thinks. However, they won’t play again for the foreseeable future after the Irish cancelled their contract for games against Big Blue from 2015-17. But they are playing this year, so let’s take a look at what to expect.
There’s the fact that the Wolverines have won three in a row in the series at the Big House. Michigan is looking good right now, too. Its Devin Gardner-led offense looked explosive last week while torching Central Michigan 59-9. It won’t be quite as easy against the Irish this week, though.
Notre Dame’s defense is still considered a top unit, boasting NFL-ready talent like defensive tackle Louis Nix III and defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Rattling Gardner will be the key for the Irish. He threw two interceptions last week during Michigan’s big win and could make some of those same mistakes if the stout Irish front can press the issue.
For the Irish, it's deja vu: The Tommy Rees era has officially begun, again. He aced his first “test” against Temple in Week 1, posting a 239 QB rating with 346 yards passing and three touchdowns. The senior quarterback looks ready for the task of leading the Irish in 2013.
Rees is no stranger to Michigan Stadium, either. Starting there against the Wolverines in 2011, the quarterback went 27 of 39 for 315 yards and tossed three touchdowns in a 35-31 loss. However, two big red-zone turnovers were a problem for him.
This one is really going to come down to controlling the line of scrimmage. If Michigan’s young but impressive offensive line can keep Nix, Tuitt and Co. at bay, they’ll be able to keep it close and contend. If not, look for the Irish to come away with another close victory much like last year’s 13-6 result.