The Wrapup

By Adam Caparell - September 03, 2006

Well, a win’s a win and that’s what the Irish got Saturday. It wasn’t pretty and the offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders, but Charlie Weis’ squad got the job done. They won and survived, lived to face Penn State next without a loss hanging over them and still one of the favorites to make it to the national championship game. For that, they should be satisfied. For other reasons, there should be concern.

For one, no championship caliber team is ever going to win a national title with a kicking game like the one the Irish have. The game really could have been put out of reach a lot earlier if Carl Gioia had nailed down those attempts. This is going to cost the Irish at some point.

But you have to give Notre Dame credit for the way their defense played. Unlike last year, it wasn’t the offense that won this game. Maybe Notre Dame showed everybody something here. They held Georgia Tech in relative check. Calvin Johnson had his touches, but the Irish only let up 138 yards passing and just 258 yards of total offense - well, well below their season averages of a year ago. They showed some great defensive speed and made stops. Tech converted on just two of its 10 third-down opportunities. Yes, Tech isn't a USC, Ohio State caliber offense and those are the kinds of offenses the Irish are going to have to stop if they want to win it all. You certainly can't anoint them as one of the best in the country. But stopping any offense in your first game is always a good sign and nice block to build from.

No Surprise: USC beating down on Arkansas. I don’t know why people were thinking Arkansas was a great pick for an upset. This team is still stacked and loaded with tons and tons of talent. If that was the real Cal team that showed up on Saturday at Tennessee then the Trojans are going to run away with the Pac-10 again. John David Booty was on his game and so was the rest of the offense. Just like last year, the Trojans put up point after point after point.

Big Surprise: Tennessee’s relative thrashing of Cal. I had this one totally wrong. I figured Cal would dominate thanks to its running game and that didn’t happen. Cal looked anything but a Top 10 team and should be significantly demoted after that poor performance. The Bears need to practice their tackling.

Best Win: Tennessee proved it should be taken seriously in the SEC East with their performance against Cal and that their 5-6 season of 2006 should be a nothing but a distant memory if they continue to play like they did. Tennessee looked liked much better than its No. 23 ranking.

Worst Loss: Colorado’s 19-10 loss to Montana State. Not the kind of start you want to get off to in your first game at a new school. Dan Hawkins isn’t resting easy tonight, that’s for sure. He’s a great guy, really entertaining, and one of the easiest guys to root for. But you can’t lose your first game at a new school - especially at a Big 12 school and relative perennial conference power like Colorado is. The Buffaloes have had a lot of lows in the past couple of years. This has to rank right up there with all of them.

Some Interesting Stats: The Top 8 teams Saturday outscored their opponents 316-77.

- Tennessee QB Erik Ainge had five touchdowns in 2005. He had four Saturday.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 02:02 AM on September 03, 2006

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