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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Michigan and Notre Dames’ Rough Start

    The first Saturday of the college football season started off with two major upsets, with fifth ranked Michigan falling to Appalachian State, and powerhouse Notre Dame’s loss to underdog Georgia Tech. Both Michigan and Notre Dame lost at home and put a damper on their young season. Michigan’s loss to Appalachian State, a member of the championship division (formerly known as Division I-AA) was the most shocking, especially since Michigan, a team with far superior in talent and depth was vying for a national championship. The Wolverines were an overwhelming favorite to topple the visiting Mountaineers, but fell short of expectations in just the first game of the season. The game remained close until the final horn; after an amazing completed Hail Mary pass, Michigan found themselves back in the game within field-goal range. With the time expiring, the Wolverines brought out their special teams, and for the second time in the game, had their 37 yard attempt blocked by Appalachian State. Had it converted, Michigan would have likely taken the lead (35-34) and the win.

    Despite the close score, this 34-32 Michigan loss is now considered by many to be one of the biggest upset in sports history. With the return of stars Mike Hart (running back) and Chad Henne (quarterback), Michigan’s juggernaut offense was bound to carry them to a national championship bid. Last year the Wolverines finished the regular season 11-1 with Hart and Henne leading the way; their only loss coming at the hands of number one ranked Ohio State in the Buckeye’s house, in the season finale. Had this showdown been played at Michigan, Michigan would have likely taken the win.

    Despite their loss, many still believed Michigan deserved a shot at the national championship last year, With Mike Hart and Chad Henne returning, and combined with their strong recruiting class, they were a strong contender to win it all this year. However, their loss to an unranked team and a team that has no chance of playing a bowl game virtually eliminates Michigan from playing for the national championship.

    Appalachian State, the Division I-AA champions for the previous two seasons has been a consistent force throughout their history. However their match was still considered a David vs. Goliath contest, mainly because Michigan is college football’s most successful program in the sport’s history. To top it off, Appalachian State’s hometown of Boone, North Carolina’s entire population of 15,000 people can only account for a little more than 10% of Michigan’s, which can hold 110,000 people.

    The other upset, with Georgia Tech defeating Notre Dame (33-3) received considerably less coverage, but still shocked the nation. Though Notre Dame wasn’t ranked in the top 25 like Michigan, the loss is still considered a huge slap in the face to the Fighting Irish. The had high expectations with signing of coach Charlie Weiss before last season, but his tenure has been disappointing thus far, and the season outlook is grim especially after being blown out by the Georgia Tech.

    The Yellow Jackets have to be excited, but this victory can’t be too much of a surprise. They finished a respectable 9-5 last year, and had a successful season until losing the last three games of the season to Georgia, 16th ranked Wake Forest and 10th ranked West Virginia. With these three losses each only by a field goal, their 9-5 record is misleading. Georgia Tech, unlike Appalachian State, has the ability to recruit great talent and despite their loss last of Heisman candidate Calvin Johnson to the NFL, they return a strong team led by Tashard Choice. Choice ran for 2 touchdowns, with 196 yards on 26 carries (7.5 yards per carry).

    Notre Dame also lost a Heisman candidate in Brady Quinn, going to the NFL, but unlike Georgia Tech, they don’t have a returning superstar to carry the team. This year’s squad must rely on freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen, announced as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback after the loss. Clausen was highly recruited, but can’t be expected to play at the same level as Brady Quinn in his first season as Notre Dame’s quarterback.

    The first weekend of college football saw a major upset of a nationally ranked Michigan program, while an underrated and emerging Yellow Jacket team dominated an overrated/ young Notre Dame team. Ultimately, Georgia Tech’s victory wasn’t a surprise, but when considering Notre Dame’s past as the second most successful team in college football history, this was a major defeat that is still worth noting.

    The second week was no different for Michigan or Notre Dame. Michigan’s Head Coach Lloyd Carr might as well be fired, in order to begin a rebuilding process. This most recent loss (a 39-7 blowout to Oregon), against another team outside Michigan’s Big 10 Conference, is pathetic. Carr’s job was in question even before their abysmal season started after Michigan’s disappointing loss to USC in the Rose Bowl to finish last season. This weekends blow out was magnified by the fact it was played at home. To make things worse, star quarterback Chad Henne may not play next week after hurting his leg in the second quarter of the game. Michigan’s season is looking bleak.

    Notre Dame’s week was not much better. They took a beating at Penn State, but their loss wasn’t as bad as the 31-10 loss made it seem. The game was close for a long period of time, with the offense led by the freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Therefore, Charlie Weiss’ job should be safe, although will he will still be under a microscope for the rest of the season.

    Penn State who was ranked #14 coming into game, had revenge on their minds after losing to Notre Dame last year. Their defense led the way allowing 0 yards rushing to the Fighting Irish, and limiting Clausen to only 144 yards passing. After today’s performance, Joe Paterno’s team showed that they are a forced to be reckoned with, and it will be interesting to see if the long time Nittany Lion coach still has the ability to take his team to a national championship.

    This was the first time both Michigan and Notre Dame, who respectively are the top two teams success-wise in college football history, have started 0-2. This was also the first time Michigan has started 0-2 at home in a season since 1959.

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