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College Football 2014: Week 2 Preview
Saturday, 2014 September 6 - 10:45 am
Michigan plays Notre Dame one more time before the series goes on hiatus; N.C. State plays Old Dominion.

Michigan at #16 Notre Dame
Both teams had cupcake opponents in Week 1; we'll find out a lot more about the them this week. Notre Dame has been racked with suspensions from an academic scandal; they are thin on defense. That might provide some opportunities for Michigan's young offensive line to gain some traction. They'll need to get a hat on Notre Dame defensive tackle Sheldon Day, a 285-pound terror who runs like a safety. That's a concern. Graham Glasgow might return at right guard for this game, which will help.

The rest of the defense is young and undersized, but athletic. Still, Devin Funchess must be licking his chops over the prospect of being matched up against a 5'9" cornerback.

On offense, Notre Dame has quarterback Everett Golson back this year, and he's fast and athletic. He'll present a problem for the Michigan linebackers if they do not remain disciplined. Fortunately for Michigan, he doesn't have many great receiving targets, and I think the Michigan corners will hold up fine. The Notre Dame offensive line is big and experienced, so it's a strength-on-strength matchup going up against Michigan's deep and fast defensive line.

Oddsmakers have this one going to Notre Dame, largely on perceptions from last year and from the fact that this is being played in South Bend. I think it'll be very close.

Prediction: Michigan 34, Notre Dame 33.

N.C. State vs. Old Dominion
Old Dominion is playing Division I-A football for the first time this year. They went 8-4 last year in I-AA, but they also got stomped 80-20 by UNC in their final game, and they lost to all of their I-A opponents. This year they have a returning senior quarterback in Taylor Heinicke and have depth at wideout, but they're also breaking in three new starters on the offensive line. Unfortunately N.C. State's defensive line didn't look very good last week against Georgia Southern; they'll need to get much better penetration to stop the ODU offense.

The ODU defense returns many starters, but a bunch of them were freshmen last year. The defensive line features a couple of speedy but undersized defensive ends in Andrew Everett and Terrell Reid; 303-pound Chris Smith will anchor the team at defensive tackle. I think State's best bet is to run the ball and wear ODU down.

Until I saw last week's State game I would have said this one would be a comfortable win... but I think State still has a lot of tuning to do.

Prediction: N.C. State 24, Old Dominion 20.

Games to Watch on TV
At noon the most interesting game might be the Akron Zips playing at Penn State on ABC/ESPN2 (regionally). Akron has historically given Penn State trouble. There aren't many other good matchups in the early games.

There's an excellent 3:30 game, though: #14 USC at #13 Stanford. It's a huge game for both teams and should prove to be an entertaining matchup. That's nationwide on ABC.

At 6:00 N.C. State plays ODU, but that game is only available online. So at 6:30 tune over to this week's Game of the Week, as #7 Michigan State plays at #3 Oregon. One of the country's top defenses against one of the top offenses? Yes please. I don't know where my rooting interest is; one the one hand, go Big Ten; on the other, it wouldn't hurt me to see MSU's ego taken down a notch.

The Michigan-Notre Dame game is at 7:30 on NBC. There's an intriguing matchup at 8:00 too, as Virginia Tech plays #8 Ohio State on ABC. Ohio State seems vulnerable without Braxton Miller; this game will be a real test for the Buckeyes.
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