Chicago Colleges: Rice Owls
Here are our three biggest takeaways from this game, starting, of course, with the man under center:
"Obviously the story of Golson was electric," Kelly said. "He kept his eyes downfield. Knew when to run, knew when to throw it, and those are things we really talked about. We didn't want to overcoach him in that we were going to allow him today to get outside the pocket and be a football player, and just naturally go play the game. And I thought he did that today extraordinarily well. He came back today and I think really showed the kind of player that he can be."
2) Golson's weapons aren't too bad either. Will Fuller was the receiver of a choice Saturday. And while his line (four catches, 85 yards, TD) is hardly eye-opening, it's worth noting that three other players eclipsed the 50-yard receiving plateau. Golson hit seven different targets against the Owls, and with the signal caller being one of five Irish players to rush for 40 or more yards, he showed just how explosive this offense can potentially be later on this season. The Irish showed great balance, tallying 295 passing yards and 281 rushing yards.
"I think I needed to polish a lot of things," Golson said. "There was a couple throws where I stayed in there and made a throw. That's what is in my mind now, but I think just being more on timing I think a lot of stuff today, I was kind of getting out of the pocket and making plays and having the guy scramble and things like that. Definitely going to get the timing down and be more precise."
3) Special teams might finally be a threat. Florida cornerback transfer Cody Riggs' biggest attribute Saturday was as a punt returner, as he brought back the first two punts for 24 and 25 yards, respectively. Greg Bryant added three returns for 31 yards (including a 10-yard return that he probably should not have picked up at the 1.) Notre Dame's average starting field position was at its own 36-yard line. They punted it just three times. Add that with an offense capable of spreading the field and the strain on a young defense is lessened considerably.
"It was driven by personnel and it was driven by wanting to improve in that area," Kelly said. "We had (80) yards in punt returns, and we only had (106) the entire year last year. I think we've improved there. We need to do it consistently.
"Cody Riggs was gassed and we had to take him out. He had not played that much football at Florida I think in a couple years. But Greg Bryant is fearless and does not know what a fair catch is. So all those people wondering why he was catching the ball, he came up with the, 'I can't hear you, my earplug is in.'
"So we have got guys back there that are fearless, that will catch the football and stick their foot in the ground and get north and south, and that is absolutely crucial. And we have guys that are committed to covering people up. So we have got the want to and the resolve to do and we have to continue to do it."
- Tough news out of Houston concerning Week 1 Irish opponent Rice, as offensive lineman Drew Carroll has been forced to retire because of a kidney disease.
- KeiVarae Russell wants opponents to dread facing him, Rachel Terlep writes in the Elkhart Truth.
- Per LaMond Pope, Jeff Samardzija had some to say about the end of the Michigan rivalry.
Jeff Samardzija on MLB Network on end of #NotreDame-Michigan: "That's about as absurd as Notre Dame putting FieldTurf in instead of grass...— LaMond Pope (@lamondpope) August 6, 2014
but hey that's the way things are going these days and times are changing in college football. ...— LaMond Pope (@lamondpope) August 6, 2014
It's an awesome rivalry and hopefully they find a way to mix it in some more down the road for sure."— LaMond Pope (@lamondpope) August 6, 2014
- The Chicago Sun-Times' Steve Greenberg says Notre Dame is looking to rediscover its mojo.
- CSNChicago's JJ Stankevitz explains some of his rankings of the top 25 Notre Dame players.
- BlueandGold.com's Andrew Owens says Jaylon Smith deserves to be named captain, regardless of age. (Subscription required)
One win away.
Northwestern needs one more victory to secure bowl eligibility after a miserable 2-5 start. The Wildcats won their third consecutive game Saturday thanks to a defense that is showing up in force after struggling mightily during the first two months of the season.
Pat Fitzgerald's crew nearly recorded its first shutout since 2007 before a trick play led to Rice's touchdown with 4:16 left in the game. Fitzgerald continue to say his defense was a few plays away from taking steps, and he has to be pleased with his crew in the past two games. Linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo had a nice day with two tackles for loss.
Northwestern's offense received a career performance from senior receiver Jeremy Ebert, who finished with seven catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Dan Persa threw four touchdown passes and two interceptions, completing 25 of 32 attempts for 372 yards. Despite dealing with injuries all season, Persa has been impressive. Northwestern found its run game late and finished with 533 total yards.
The Wildcats remain at home next week against Minnesota and the following week against Michigan State, likely needing just one more win to reach a bowl for the fourth consecutive season.
The Wildcats, who contained Nebraska well last week in Lincoln, held a Rice team that scored 75 points in its previous two games to no points in the opening half. The Owls struggled to get much going on offense and have given punter Kyle Martens quite the workout (5 punts, 215 yards).
Northwestern defensive end Tyler Scott recorded an interception late in the half, setting up a touchdown, and others have contributed for the Wildcats' D, which had held Rice to 116 yards.
The Northwestern offense has relied on the big play so far, and receiver Jeremy Ebert is having a huge day with five receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns, including a 90-yarder that marked the second-longest play in team history. Demetrius Fields also had a 50-yard reception on third-and-long to set up an Ebert touchdown.
Quarterback Dan Persa returned from his left shoulder injury and has looked good, completing 10 of 14 pass attempts for 223 yards.
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
Final Western Carolina 14 1 Alabama 48 Final Colorado 10 2 Oregon 44 Final Boston College 17 3 Florida State 20 Final Vanderbilt 0 4 Mississippi State 51 Final Indiana 27 6 Ohio State 42 Final Oklahoma State 28 7 Baylor 49 Final 8 Ole Miss 0 Arkansas 30 Final 19 USC 20 9 UCLA 38 Final Charleston Southern 9 10 Georgia 55 Final Rutgers 3 11 Michigan State 45 Final Washington State 31 13 Arizona State 52 Final Samford 7 14 Auburn 31 Final 15 Arizona 42 17 Utah 10 Final 16 Wisconsin 26 Iowa 24 Final 20 Missouri 29 Tennessee 21 Final Kansas 7 21 Oklahoma 44 Final Georgia State 0 22 Clemson 28 Final 25 Minnesota 28 23 Nebraska 24 Final 24 Louisville 31 Notre Dame 28