Man, was it ever great to have college football back. Finally!
Let’s overreact, shall we?
#13 Notre Dame 42, Navy 3
The Mids ran into a buzzsaw in Ireland, but I actually think the game might’ve been, well, a lot closer were it not for Irish QB Sam Hartman. Hartman finished a stellar 19/23 passing for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns, and that was with at least one egregious drop by a Notre Dame receiver.
Friends, this man was damn-near perfect.
What can you do? If you come up to play the run, Hartman’s going to rip you apart down the field. Play back in coverage, and the Irish run right at you. Army fans have seen this exact thing a couple of times now. This is why everybody tries to blitz Sam Hartman despite him playing pretty well with pressure in his face.
However. I wasn’t super-impressed by the Irish rushing defense. Navy finished with 138 yards rushing on 46 carries (3.0 yards/carry) after netting out the impact of that botched snap late in the game. That’s not great, but it wasn’t so disastrous that you’d expect them to get shut out, either. They got the inside trap rolling early, and I don’t know how many times they ran that option pitch to the outside before Notre Dame finally adjusted. The Mids just needed to hit a couple of passes — both of which were absolutely there — to keep things interesting down the stretch. They couldn’t do that, but they still put up more than enough offense to expose some things for Notre Dame’s opponents later this season.
Navy’s offense wasn’t explosive, nor were they reliable enough to sustain drives all the way down the field. That’s a problem, but they’ve got a week to figure it out before they host FCS Wagner. We won’t really see what they’ve got cooking until they travel to Memphis on Thursday, September 14th.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame hosts FCS Tennessee State next week. They then travel to NC State and host Central Michigan before finally hosting Ohio State in Week 4. We’ll see how they look against the Wolfpack, but I won’t give them much of a chance against the Buckeyes regardless.
Jacksonville State 17, UTEP 14
It helps to play at home if you’re Jax State, certainly, but it also helps to have better athletes. Jacksonville State looked WAY more athletic than the Miners, which is amazing considering that they are only just moving up to C-USA from the FCS.
UMass 41, New Mexico State 30
I really enjoyed this game, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Minutemen are back. They’re better for sure, but I expect a week’s worth of game tape will make a ton of difference for their next opponent.
Bottom line, QB Taisun Phommachanh did everything. He was the whole freaking show. 10/17 passing for 192 yards (58.8%) plus 17 carries for 96 yards (5.6 yards/carry) and a touchdown. Phommachanh looked great running the zone read, but it’s not a great sign that he finished as the team’s leading rusher. The next team is absolutely going to key on him, and then we’ll see what UMass can really do on offense.
Oh by the way, the UMass defense gave up 222 yards rushing on 5.8 yards/carry.
San Diego State 20, Ohio 13
Yo, at least the Aztecs covered. I felt confident taking SDSU (-3) on Roundtable this week, but then Ohio got up 6-3 late in the second quarter. Yikes!
Thankfully, the Aztecs’ defense seemed to find itself as the game went on. They wound up forcing three interceptions. I’ll take it.
#6 USC 56, San Jose State 28
SJSU kept it respectable through the first half, but then they melted. It’s probably not a good sign, though, that the Trojans’ defense gave up 198 yards rushing on 7.3 yards/carry. USC has a distinctly manageable schedule through 2023, but I’m not sure this team wants to take that defense on the road against the Big 10 a year from now.
Looking Ahead to Week 1
Army opens at Louisiana-Monroe next week, which means we’ll all finally see the Black Knights in their post-flexbone era. Personally, I’m not sure what to expect. Last week, they ran it a ton in their second scrimmage. This week, they had Bryson Daily throw four touchdown passes.
Friends, it’s gonna be crazy. We’re liable to see anything.
There goes that man again 🤩— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) August 26, 2023
Alston with a pair of big plays in our final scrimmage! pic.twitter.com/BsEA4UftiS
Beyond that, we’ve got NC State at UConn, Florida at #14 Utah, and Nebraska at Minnesota on Thursday night. We’ve then got Louisville at Georgia Tech on Friday, plus Virginia at #12 Tennessee, Colorado at #17 TCU, West Virginia at #7 Penn State, and #21 North Carolina at South Carolina among many, many others on Saturday. That’s a pretty good opening slate.