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Three and Out...Looking at the First Three Weeks of Non-Conference Play, Part 2

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Little known fact:  Miss Havisham was an Ohio State fan and had Great Expectations leading up to the fateful BCS National Championship game.  She now watches re-runs of 1970's Northwestern games, thinking it's still November, 2006.
Little known fact: Miss Havisham was an Ohio State fan and had Great Expectations leading up to the fateful BCS National Championship game. She now watches re-runs of 1970's Northwestern games, thinking it's still November, 2006.



So with week one covered, we move on to the following Saturday, Sep 11th, our generations Day of Infamy.  There are a lot of feelings wrapped up in that day, for all of us, and one that will always evoke powerful memories for everybody, regardless of what your profession is.  One of the things that helped this country start to heal was football, both college and professional.  As we sit to watch these games on that day, take a moment to remember, so we Never Forget.  Maudlin soap box rant over.  On to football!! 

Week 2, Sep 11:

Iowa-Iowa St:  The battle for the Cy-Hawk trophy is usually a tough one for Iowa.  Iowa State was looking at the possibility of going to the Mountain West conference when the whole realignment stuff was going on.  They realized that they bring nothing…NOTHING…to the Big Ten, and won’t ever get in.  That pissed them off, and it adds fuel to this already pretty hot fire, and week 2 of the Big XII Revenge Tour Getting Sand Kicked in the Face Tour.  For whatever reason, Iowa struggles in early season games.  Superior Iowa teams have lost to Iowa State as recently as 2005 and 2007, and they needed back to back blocked FG’s to beat Northern Iowa last year.  Not Iowa State...Northern Iowa.  This game will be a big test for the Hawkeyes, and a convincing win here puts the rest of the Big Ten on notice as we head towards conference play.

Michigan at Notre Dame:  So this game will have one of several angles to it.  If Both Notre Dame and Michigan are unbeaten, it’s the "We’re Back" angle, and another win really builds momentum, for either team.  If both teams are winless, it’s a critical game.  If Michigan starts 0-2 on top of everything the program has already gone through, there might be calls to fire Rodriguez before the end of the season.  It really puts the program into more turmoil, if that's even possible.  An 0-2 start for Notre Dame, while not ideal, wouldn’t be as critical.  It wouldn't be good, but no one in South Bend would be calling for Brian Kelly's job, except maybe the Domino's Pizza guy that used to deliver to the Weiss household.  It would be a signature win for Michigan and Rodriguez, and a big shot of confidence for the team.   If it’s on top of a win over UConn, Michigan is in business.   

Ohio State-Miami (FL):  There are two non-conference games that have early national championship implications.  This is one of them.  Ohio State feels like they have their mojo back with a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl win, and a win against the Hurricanes reinforces that.  Hopefully, it puts the ‘Big Ten is Big and slow’ meme to bed for good.  Miami is trying to get back to their days when they were ‘The U’, and kicking the hell out of everyone.  They were dominated by a good Wisconsin team in their own backyard, and a win for Miami puts them in the National Championship talk.  A loss for Ohio State and it’s back to the ‘big, slow, Big Ten’ crap that we are all sick of hearing.  With all the bias towards the Big Ten, I think a loss here essentially knocks them out of the national title picture.

Penn State at Alabama:  This is the other non-conference game with national title implications.  Penn State has a lot of questions at quarterback entering 2010, and this game might go a long way to answering them...or creating more.  Alabama has a fast defense, and if Penn State can win this game, Alabama won’t repeat as national champions, because I don’t see them running the table in their conference games.  It also puts Penn State at the table for national championship talk, and you could argue the slight favorite in the Big Ten, as this would be the most impressive non-conference win for the teams expected to contend.  This would be an impressive win, and Penn State can do it. 

And oh Dear Lord, if both Penn State and Ohio State were to win their Sep. 11 games, Mark May’s head might actually explode on College Gameday Final.  Marry that up with a Michigan win over Notre Dame, and May and Holtz might actually commit simultaneous hari kari, LIVE ON TV.  Domo Origato Mr Roboto, indeed.  Look, if they can broadcast the Cleveland Screwjob, starring LeBron James, they could broadcast this, couldn’t they?  Please? 

And I really don’t want to talk about what my mood will be if OSU, PSU, Iowa and UM all lose.

I'm calling wins for Iowa, UM, and OSU.  If Darryl Clark were still at Happy Valley, I'd make it a clean sweep.  Penn State keeps it close, but the home crowd tilts the game towards the Crimson Tide.