Notre Dame 28, Temple 6
The Good: Tommy Rees. As college football’s resident Mariano Rivera in 2012, Rees started just two of the Irish’s 13 games, but appeared in 11. He led the game-winning drive against Purdue, scored the game’s only touchdown vs. Michigan and threw the go-ahead touchdown in overtime opposite Stanford. With 2012 first-stringer Everett Golson suspended for academic reasons this season, Rees was elevated to starter. The senior pitched a gem Saturday vs. Temple, throwing for 346 yards, three touchdowns and most importantly, zero interceptions. As a sophomore, Rees threw 14 picks. If Rees limits his miscues, Notre Dame has a shot at a BCS bid this year.
The Bad: Nine penalties. Defensive tackle Louis Nix III was the major offender, getting whistled for a personal foul and offsides — twice.
What’s Next: After Devin Gardner accounted for 214 yards and three touchdowns during Michigan’s 59-9 pasting of Central Michigan Saturday, Head Wolverine Brady Hoke said his starting quarterback had a “good game, (but) I wouldn’t say elite or excellent.” Why? Two interceptions. Notre Dame visits Ann Arbor Saturday, filling ABC’s primetime slot at 8 p.m. The 2012 Irish defense averaged nearly two takeaways a game. Lacking last year’s Heisman runner-up/turnover magnet Manti Te’o (seven interceptions, two fumble recoveries), Notre Dame needs someone to channel Te’o’s knack for the big play to escape next weekend 2-0.
Cincinnati 42, Purdue 7
The Good: We learned new Boilermaker head coach Darrell Hazell is impervious to heat. It was reportedly 109 degrees on the Nippert Stadium artificial turf at kickoff Saturday, with the mercury rising to 127 degrees at one point. And yet, there was Hazell in a long sleeve jacket. No word on if the jacket had a built-in air conditioning unit.
The Bad: Everything. Purdue’s starting quarterback, fifth-year senior Rob Henry, was so upset at his performance (18-of-35 passing, two interceptions, a fumble) that he apologized on Twitter Saturday afternoon — then tweeted he’s quitting Twitter. The Boilermakers’ disaster of an opener wasn’t entirely Henry’s doing — just look to Cincinnati’s average of six yards per play and 425 yards of offense.
What’s Next: Redemption lies Saturday at noon against Indiana State (Big Ten Network), whose upset chances took a hit when star running back Shakir Bell left Thursday’s game with a separated shoulder and is expected to miss a few weeks. Hazell and company better come up with a win Saturday in their home opener, seeing as Notre Dame and Wisconsin lie in Weeks 3 and 4.
Indiana 73, Indiana St. 35
The Good: Despite using a merry-go-round of quarterbacks, Indiana accumulated 632 yards of offense Thursday. The Hoosiers scored six touchdowns in a combined three minutes and 57 seconds in the first half. The defense racked up nine consecutive stops after Indiana State leveled the score at seven. IU nearly succumbed to the Sycamores in its 2012 opener, but put this one out of reach early.
The Bad: Indiana coach Kevin Wilson was overruled by his coaching staff on the Hoosiers’ starting QB in the opener. (Tre Roberson got the call, and Wilson didn’t reveal his pregame choice). Roberson (two passing touchdowns) didn’t play after the first quarter, leaving with bruised ribs. Nate Sudfeld replaced Roberson and shined, recording four scores through the air, though he also threw a pick-six. Cam Coffman (2-of-7, interception) was the clear third wheel. Occasionally, two-quarterback systems work in college. But if the coaching staff isn’t on the same page, any potential Roberson-Sudfeld experiment is doomed for failure.
What’s Next: Navy edged Indiana 31-30 last October, sending the Hoosiers to their fifth straight loss following a 2-0 start. The Midshipmen’s triple-option is a bear to prepare for, but so is IU’s wide-open spread. Beginning Saturday at 6 p.m. (Big Ten Network), expect a scoring binge in Bloomington.
The Cardinals, a 51-28 winner over Illinois State in Week 1, will host Army (1-0) Saturday.
Matt Canada NC State debut predictably potent
Matt Canada lost his conductor six minutes into the first quarter, but the North Carolina State offense remained on track.
Canada, a New Palestine native originally profiled by the Daily Reporter on Aug. 29, guided the Wolfpack offense to 542 yards of offense in his first game as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach as NC State handled visiting Louisiana Tech 40-14 Saturday.
Pack quarterback Brandon Mitchell, in his first season as the starter after transferring from Arkansas, directed a pair of touchdown drives before breaking a bone in his left foot.
Junior Pete Thomas and two freshmen — Bryant Shirreffs and Josh Taylor — relieved Mitchell as Canada and his offense adjusted on the fly.
Even with Mitchell playing less than a quarter, NC State averaged six yards per play and converted 50 percent (nine of 18) of its third downs.
The Wolfpack were prepared despite Mitchell’s unfortunate break, an unsurprising feat to those who know Canada well.
“Back at New Pal, he was another coach on the field. It was pretty obvious that if Matt wanted to continue on in coaching, he would be successful,” said Marvin Shepler, Canada’s coach while he quarterbacked the Dragons in 1988 and 1989. “He was a leader from Day 1 and showed a lot of perseverance and loyalty to the program. He was the type of kid you want running your football team.”
Recently, Canada ran the offense and coached the QBs at Northern Illinois and Wisconsin before moving south.
Former Indiana coach Bill Mallory, who gave Canada his start as a student coach in 1992, expects continued success from his former pupil.
“I like him a lot and think the world of him as a person,” Mallory offered. “I think he’s without question an excellent offensive coordinator.”