With a second nightmarish loss in the books the 2011 Fighting Irish will attempt to get back on track this weekend against the best opponent they will have faced yet. Michigan State. This Saturday the Fighting Irish will either start turning the corner or the cloud of doom that some believe is settling in over South Bend will start firing lighting bolts from its arse. There has never been a better time to run rule Sparty.
Elsewhere around the country there are a few more quality matchups than we have seen in the first two weeks and some more good opportunities to get looks at future Notre Dame opponents. As I perused the schedule I couldn't help but notice that there are still several BCS Conference bottom feeders scheduled to tee it up against their third consecutive local high school squad. I have always loved the fact that ND schedules quality opponents right out of the gate but at times like these I can't help but waiver. At least a little bit....
If any of you are looking for full TV schedules I suggest the link below. You can find permanent links to this one and a couple of others on the bottom left hand side of our front page under "TV Schedules."
Now on to the games. Rankings are per the BlogPoll.
*All times listed below are EST.
Thursday 15 September
#2 LSU at Mississippi State 8:00 ESPN
The Ghost of Wayne Madkin came up a few inches short with a controversial play call that got stuffed on the Auburn goal line last weekend. Can Dan Mullen bounce back and handle The Hat? Naaaahhhhh.
Friday 16 September
#4 Boise State at Toledo 8:00 ESPN
Toledo actually gave Ohio State a decent game last weekend at the Shoe. I don't think they will fare as well against Kellen Moore and the Broncos. Boise by pick a number between 35 and 50.
Saturday 17 September
Pittsburgh at Iowa 12:00 ESPN2
Pitt has notched two extremely impressive wins against the likes of Buffalo and Maine. Iowa on the other hand was just nicked by Iowa State for the interim version of the Cy-Hawk trophy last weekend. Thriller. I just want to get a good look at Pitt before ND heads to Heinz field next weekend.
#18 West Virginia at Maryland 12:00 ESPNU
This is yet another chance to get a look at Maryland if you can bear it. I will be waiting with baited breath to see what kind of clown suits they bust out at home this weekend. Those opening week getups were quite possibly the worst of all time. Seriously.
Tennessee at #16 Florida 3:30 CBS
Thus far the Gators have run ruled Florida Atlantic and UAB. Tennessee has also won comfortably against Montana and Cincinnatti. For bonus points Derek Dooley has been rocking some sweet orange pants. This game will be a good litmus test for both teams. I have a feeling that the Gators, who were written off as an SEC East also ran in the preseason, might be more of a factor than anybody thought. I'll attempt to keep an eye on the Champ/Weis brain trust on TV #2.
Washington at #11 Nebraska 3:30 ABC/ESPN
This game is kind of like the girl in that Damn Yankees song Coming of Age. "She said her name was maybe...." In reality I will likely attempt to flip back and forth between this one, the previous one and the next one on TV #2. Of the three this is by far the least interesting and I probably won't end up watching a down of it as a result. Has Pelini gotten into any fights with Taylor Martinez's Dad yet? Farmer Ted would know. Where is that guy anyway?
#23 Texas at UCLA 3:30 ABC/ESPN
This is the ABC/ESPN mirror game with Washington at Nebraska. The Horns haven't been setting the world on fire thus far in 2011 but they did edge a pretty solid BYU team last week and snuck back into the polls with a 2-0 record. Slick Rick roughed up the Horns in Austin last year and as of today the Horns are planning on platooning Case McCoy and David Ash at quarterback. Garrett Gilbert has apparently gone the way of Dayne Crist and is now holding clipboards. This one might be worth a look.
#15 Michigan State at Notre Dame 3:30 NBC
As per usual I'll leave the heavy lifting on this game to Murtaugh and Burger. They are in the OFD lab right now watching cutups and living off of caffeine, sunflower seeds and assorted tobacco products. Beefy previews coming from them shortly. Don't forget to stop by for our open thread again this weekend during the game. Those have been more fun than we bargained for despite the two heinous losses.
Navy at #10 South Carolina 6:00 ESPN2
Ole Ball Coach and his crew have looked fairly formidable in their first two matchups and I have yet to watch the Mids play this season. I know, I know the Mids have no chance against an SEC defense, blah, blah, blah. South Carolina probably thinks so too which is why this one has the potential to be interesting.
Louisville at Kentucky 7:00 ESPN2
Like the Cy-Hawk this is another in state game that is played way too early. Why don't they save these for the end of the season like everyone else? Either way the Governor's Cup is on the line dammit! As a bonus there could also be an Ashley Judd sighting.
#17 Ohio State at Miami 7:30 ESPN
I'm not convinced that either of these teams is really very good. I'll dial it up on TV #2 and keep an eye on it just in case it gets interesting.
#3 Oklahoma at #6 Florida State 8:00 ABC
Last season Oklahoma exposed the Noles as a pretender. Will it happen again? This game could tell us a lot about both teams. Deal me in.
#5 Stanford at Arizona 10:45 ESPN
For a nightcap I can watch Andrew Luck cut up the Wildcat D which could seriously hamper my outlook on Notre Dame's season. That will be especially true if the Irish aren't 1-2 when this one kicks off.
What other games should I be trying to keep an eye on?