|Notre Dame-Michigan missing something - again|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 10 September 2008 13:28|
``There's a lot of tradition in this game,'' Michigan quarterback Steven Threet said.
But no ranked teams - again.
The Wolverines (1-1) and Fighting Irish (1-0) will play Saturday in South Bend, Ind., as unranked teams for the second straight year.
When Michigan beat Notre Dame 38-0 last year, ending a three-game losing streak in the series, it avoided its first 0-3 start in seven decades.
The rout put Charlie Weis in unwanted company, joining Bob Davie as the only Irish coaches to lose their first three games in a season.
The game was as lopsided as it was unprecedented.
Michigan and Notre Dame met as unranked and winless teams for the first time, not counting openers, since The Associated Press started ranking teams in 1936.
The Wolverines turned around their season enough to win nine games in Lloyd Carr's final season, sending him into retirement with a 122-40 record.
s gone 79-56, falling behind Michigan as college football's winningest program in 2004. The Wolverines are now 870-287-36 (.744) with Notre Dame second at 825-278-42 (.739).
Holtz led the Irish to their last national championship in 1988, making this the longest title drought in school history.
Michigan started this season unranked for the first time since 1985 and Rich Rodriguez - the first coach at Michigan without a tie to Bo Schembechler in four decades - had his debut spoiled by Utah.
A lackluster win over Miami of Ohio last week didn't do much to change modest, short-term expectations for the Rodriguez era. Same goes for Notre Dame's 21-13 close call at home against San Diego State.
But the game still means a lot to both teams and their coast-to-coast fans.
``Let me not underestimate the magnitude of the game,'' Weis said.
Rodriguez isn't concerned about his team being ready for its first road game.
``It's probably an easier game for both teams to get excited in preparation,'' he said.
ROYSTER RUNS: Penn State's Evan Royster is off to a running start as the new featured tailback in Happy Valley.
He's the first Nittany Lions player to rush for six scores in a season's first two games in the 43 years that Joe Paterno has been head coach.
for eight scores in the final two contests of the 2002 regular season.
Royster's reputation coming into this year was that of a between-the-tackles back with good vision. He's proven to have a burst of speed in the open field, too.
``A few games (last year), I saw this kid make some amazing runs,'' safety Anthony Scirrotto said, ``I said, 'Geez, this kid is going to be good.'''
ELBOW GREASE: Minnesota coach Tim Brewster has raved about his team's work ethic since he took the job in January 2007, frequently calling his players the hardest-working group in the country.
Perhaps there's some truth behind to it. Minnesota is 2-0. The Gophers went on the road and outscored Bowling Green 21-0 in the fourth quarter en route to a 42-17 victory against a team coming off a road victory at then-ranked Pittsburgh.
``I'm so pleased they've been rewarded for their hard work,'' Brewster said.
Brewster has renamed the team's strength and conditioning program under assistant coach Mark Hill ``the fourth quarter program.''
TOUGH CROWD: Iowa backup defensive tackle Karl Klug was named the Big Ten's defensive player of the week for his efforts against Florida International. The sophomore recorded nine tackles, had two sacks and forced a fumble. But since Klug's efforts came with the game well in hand, he wasn't even honored by his own coaches.
ilding,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. ``He got a runner-up or honorable mention, and I was teasing him about that. I said, 'Geez, the Big Ten is a little kinder to you than the coaching staff.'''
NO PICKS: Northwestern's C.J. Bacher has cut down on his interceptions so far this season. After tossing 19 a year ago, Bacher has only one in the first two games - that pick on the opening drive of the season.
He completed 14-of-31 passes in a 24-20 victory against Duke, but said, ``I missed a lot of receivers that I needed to hit.''
QUICK-HITTERS: The rest of this week's schedule: No. 5 Ohio State at No. 1 Southern California; Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 24 Illinois; Iowa State at Iowa; Florida Atlantic at Michigan State; Montana State at Minnesota; Southern Illinois at Northwestern; No. 17 Penn State at Syracuse; No. 16 Oregon at Purdue; and No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 21 Fresno State. ... Other players of the week: RB Javon Ringer of Michigan State, QB Adam Weber of Minnesota and Royster on offense, and Purdue FB Frank Halliburton on special teams. ... S Otis Wiley had five punt returns for 113 yards in a win over Eastern Michigan, almost eclipsing Michigan State's yardage for all of last season (126 yards on 31 returns). ... USC has won its last seven games against Big Ten teams - by an average of 27.8 points.
o and Michael Marot, and Associated Press Writers Genaro Armas and Tim Martin contributed to this report.