No. 12 Notre Dame tops No. 14 Michigan to renew rivalry with a win

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The echoes were awoken Saturday night in South Bend… in a big way.

No. 12 Notre Dame jumped out to a lead and never seemed to look back as they made a season-opening statement by topping No. 14 Michigan 24-17 in a game they generally controlled throughout. It was an impressive outing by any measure and especially so as the two college football blue bloods renewed their rivalry series with high hopes for the year but only one walking away happy.

Perhaps the most pleasing development for head coach Brian Kelly’s Irish squad was the play of quarterback Brandon Wimbush. After a full offseason’s worth of work on his passing, the senior looked much sharper and in command of the offense despite the bright lights and feisty defense on the other side. Though he had a few throws that were off target and near interceptions, he finished the night with 170 yards, a touchdown and an interception (he also led the team in rushing with 59 yards). The numbers weren’t eye-popping by any measure but he certainly performed well against a Don Brown-led defense that returned the bulk of last year’s group that was among the best in the nation.

Wimbush wasn’t the only one to get involved in moving the ball as tailback Jafar Armstrong scored twice and ran for 35 yards in a game where every inch was earned. His speed, especially on sweeps, was evident and it looks like he’ll fit in well with Notre Dame’s other skill position talent. That group certainly includes senior Chris Finke, who delivered the early highlight of the year with a leaping touchdown catch and seems like he’ll factor heavily in the rotation out of the slot in 2018.

The Irish defense also came to play and started the year off on the right foot by allowing under four yards per play. That included holding Michigan’s rushing attack to well under 100 yards for the game, keeping lead back Karan Higdan in check particularly well with just 72 yards on 21 carries (3.4 ypc). Te’von Coney led the way with 10 tackles — and the game-sealing fumble recovery — while safety Alohi Gilman made the most of his debut for the team by stuffing the stat sheet with seven tackles, a TFL and two pass breakups.

As a result, the Wolverines couldn’t really muster much consistency at all despite a few nice plays from Shea Patterson throughout the game. The transfer from Ole Miss does look like a good fit in Jim Harbaugh’s system but every yard was tough to come by and he finished 20-of-30 for 227 yards and an interception. Patterson had to exit late with what appeared to be cramps in the fourth quarter, leading to backup Dylan McCaffrey taking a few snaps down the stretch instead of one of last year’s starters in Brandon Peters.

Things could have been much worse for Michigan had it not been for the defense bowing up as the game went on and special teams coming through. Ambry Thomas briefly gave the team life just before halftime with an electric 99-yard kick return for a touchdown but there was otherwise not much scoring on either side as the two teams slugged things out the rest of the way.

The end result will lead to ever more questions for Harbaugh as his offense seemed to once again show flashes but wind up not doing a whole lot come crunch time. There’s certainly still a path to the College Football Playoff available for the Wolverines in the tough Big Ten East but the margin for error does seem a lot smaller than it did in the offseason with the way they played. The defense remains solid and there does appear to be more playmakers available on the other side of the ball but consistency was lacking on the road to open the season.

The Irish, meanwhile, have to be thrilled at the result even if the second half wasn’t quite as convincing as they wanted it to be. They’ll likely move up into the top 10 come the release of the latest polls on Tuesday and have two more home games to work out any kinks before facing a few stout tests in Wake Forest and, especially, big rival Stanford. While it is still far too early to start talking playoff, it was an excellent start to the year for Kelly and company as team gets used to a few new faces around the football offices.

That’s all for another time however as Notre Dame can be sure to celebrate the effort on Saturday night as they vanquished a big rival and made quite the early statement to kick off the season.

Wisconsin confirms that Jack Coan will indeed be the Badgers starting QB this season

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The latest completely unsurprising quarterback decision? Step right up Wisconsin!

As has long been expected, the Badgers confirmed via their Week 1 depth chart release on Sunday that junior Jack Coan would be the Badgers starting quarterback for the upcoming season:

Coan was an obvious choice for Paul Chryst given his experience at the position and one wonders what took the program so long in naming him the guy given his five starts last season, including leading a blowout of a Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl. He threw for 515 yards and five touchdowns (against three interceptions) last year and replaced a rather ineffective Alex Hornibrook down the stretch.

With Hornibrook transferring to Florida State in the offseason and both Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf being freshmen, picking Coan to lead the team under center was an expected end result.

Perhaps the far more interesting name on the Wisconsin depth chart is that of wide receiver Quintez Cephus as the backup behind Kendric Pryor. While the former’s talent undoubtedly makes him one of the top options in the passing game, it’s still notable to see his name pop up given that he was so recently reinstated to the team following his acquittal of sexual assault charges earlier in the month.

Cephus has been practicing with the team but he did miss all of last season while dealing with the legal issues and will have less than two weeks of practices under his belt before the opener at USF on Aug. 30.

Either way, we at least know where he stands in the pecking order for the Badgers and who will be throwing him passes this season as UW gets set to make another run at the Big Ten title.

Georgia DL Bill Norton arrested on a number of alcohol-related charges

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The SEC East sure is having itself a weekend. And only a handful of teams can say that’s a good thing.

Hot on the heals of Tennessee DB Bryce Thompson getting arrested, Georgia is now dealing with an arrest of their own. While the charges are not quite as serious as those in Knoxville, they are still enough to make Kirby Smart blow a gasket or two.

As per DawgNation, Bulldogs freshman defensive lineman Bill Norton was booked on a number of alcohol-related charges early Sunday morning and eventually released on bond. Record show he was cited for driving under the influence, failure to maintain lane/improper driving and minor in possession of alcohol.

A court date does not appear to have been set just yet in the matter.

While there seemed to be little chance that Norton saw action in the opener against Vanderbilt on Saturday night, his arrest probably ended any slim hope of seeing the field or traveling with the team to Nashville.

A four-star prospect coming out of high school in Tennessee, Norton picked Georgia over fellow SEC rivals Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee and others.

Nick Rolovich, Arizona State have some fun at Arizona’s expense after late night Hawaii win

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Week 0 is officially in the books and oh how great it was to have college football once again in our lives.

While most of the attention nationally was on the compelling matchup between Florida and Miami down in Orlando, the better of the two FBS games in action on Saturday was actually out in the islands where Hawaii pulled a 45-38 upset of Arizona. The latter game had a ton of moments that only seem to happen late into the night like turnovers galore, some wild touchdowns and the Rainbow Warriors defense stopping a weaving Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate at the one yard line to preserve the win a la Kevin Dyson in Super Bowl XXXIV.

The real fun may have come after the game was over while most of America was soundly sleeping though. First off, Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich took to Twitter to have a little fun with the prognosticators on ESPN’s College GameDay for their game picks…

Well played. He wasn’t the only one to have a bit of fun at Arizona’s expense either with the Wildcats’ bitter rivals Arizona State also getting into the act with a cheeky Mahalo as well.

Troll game… strong. Welcome back college football, where that Territorial Cup game at the end of the regular season just might be a little more fun given the way the season has started off.

Tennessee DB Bryce Thompson arrested for domestic assault, allegedly made threats against school too

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One of Tennessee’s best defenders spent the first Saturday night of college football in jail instead of watching a division rival on TV.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, starting defensive back Bryce Thompson was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor domestic assault and allegedly made threats against the school during an altercation. As a result, he was jailed overnight before being released on bond early Sunday.

Per the paper:

Thompson and a woman got into an argument around 8 p.m. Saturday in Stokely Hall on the University of Tennessee-Knoxville campus, according to court records.

Thompson reportedly told the woman he would “slap the (expletive) out of you.” Two witnesses told police they heard him threaten to “shoot up the school,” according to an arrest warrant.

The woman in question reportedly had been in a longterm relationship with the sophomore, who also damaged some property in the area.

A court date has been set already for Sept. 3 — just a few days after the Vols’ Aug. 31 opener against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium. The school said they were still in the process of gathering information and had not determined Thompson’s status for the game but that is likely coming well before kickoff.

Assuming the matter keeps Thompson out of the lineup, the team will need to find a replacement for a corner who garnered several freshman All-America honors after picking off three passes and starting 10 games in 2018.