Games to Watch: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma

Chris Hummer

No. 15 Michigan State at Notre Dame

Notre Dame has been a part of two of the wildest games you will see all year in their first two weeks. In its game against South Florida there were more than three hours of weather delays, and against Michigan there were three lead changes in the last minute in a half. While those games were fun for fans to watch, neither went in favor of the Irish. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the schedule does them no favors, as they now face their toughest test yet against a top-15 team in Michigan State. The Spartans come into the game with one of the toughest defenses in the country, allowing only three points a contest early on this season against weak competition such as Florida Atlantic and Youngstown State. Now this talented defensive corps seeks to make their mark against a big name opponent before it steps into a grueling Big 10 schedule. If Notre Dame wants to avoid a 0-3 start during what was supposed to be a breakout season, they will have a tall task against the Michigan State. It should be a good game either way for fans, as the nation’s third-ranked defense goes up against the Irish’s offense that has put up 511 yards game thus far.

No. 17 Ohio State at Miami (FL)

In 2003, this game was a clash of college football titans and one of the best National Championship games of the decade. Now in 2011 it is a match-up of big named schools stained with NCAA violations. Ohio State comes into the game with four suspended players from the Terrelle Pryor saga, which has evidently hurt the Buckeye’s more than expected, as they have struggled in their last two games against Toledo where they squeaked by only five points. However this is still a talented group, especially on the defense side of the ball, so expect them to come out strong to compensate for a stagnant offense. Miami also stumbles into week two with its own share of suspended players, at three. However, this week they get five of their players back from a one-game suspension, including quarterback Jacory Harris who’s absence was obvious in a 32-24 loss to Maryland week one. This game could be huge for Miami if they manage to knock off Ohio State, giving them real confidence going forward and justifying many pre-season projections that had them finishing at or near the top of the ACC.

No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Florida State

If you’re going to watch one game this week, or even all year, this should be the game. This game features two top-five teams, and the respective favorites in the Big 12 and ACC. Plus, on top of all that, this game will likely decide both teams’ national championship hopes, especially for Florida State, who would have to beat the Sooners to have any chance of reaching the game in a down year for the ACC. Last September, the final score of this matchup wasn’t even close, with the Sooners burying the Seminoles 47-17 in Norman. But this year the game is in Tallahassee, and a young Seminoles roster has another year of experience under its belt. Plus, Jimbo Fisher has now had a whole year now to install his systems. However, Oklahoma is still the No. 1 team in the land and will be an extremely tough nut to crack, but really the tougher test will be to stop them. The Sooners are extremely explosive at the offense end, averaging 47 points a game, and are led by two Heisman candidates in quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles. The Seminoles are no slouches themselves as they average 48 points a game, so expect fireworks and an up-and-down style of play that should be a blast to watch.

Utah at Brigham Young

In a game dubbed the “Holy War,” the two biggest schools in the state of Utah will clash. Recently this game has meant more on the national scale, with both teams factoring heavily in the BCS race the last few years. The game doesn’t carry quite the same weight this year after both teams’ suffered early losses and most likely crushed any BCS dreams. However, this game still packs a punch as both schools very much dislike each other (well, at least as much as Mormons can hate). This is a rivalry that has spanned more than 100 years, so it is a big deal, even as both teams switched or dropped their conference allegiances recently, with Utah to the Pac 12 and BYU switching to independence. The game will be a bit of an old school slugfest, as neither offense has put up huge numbers thus far, and both teams will largely depend on the run game to eat up clock. The schools allow fewer than 16.5 points a game respectively, so it will be a physical match that old school fans of the game truly love. Expect big hits and a bit of swagger and jarring when these two teams hit the gridiron.