Down-and-out Notre Dame could learn a lot from Michigan State

Is it too late to purchase season tickets at Louisville? If Illinois and Northwestern teamed up, could they beat Western Michigan? Is that a bird, a plane or another touchdown surrendered by Notre Dame’s defense? Takeaways from Week 3 of the college football season:

1. Notre Dame is staggered at 1-2, out of the Top 25 and with a defensive coordinator in Brian VanGorder whose work is being questioned by Irish fans everywhere. Brian Kelly’s approval rating isn’t so hot, either.

Difficult questions have to be asked when a team surrenders 36 straight points on its home field, as the Irish did in prime time against Michigan State. One of those questions: What do the Spartans have that the Irish don’t?

Identity. Attitude. Bottomless belief. Serious mojo. A great head coach. Those are some of the things that come to mind.

Nothing is coming easily these days to Brian Kelly and the Irish. (AP/Rex Arbogast)

Nothing is coming easily these days to Brian Kelly and the Irish. (AP/Rex Arbogast)

2. Based strictly upon on-field results, Louisville — which led Florida State 63-10 before easing off the gas pedal — probably ought to be ranked No. 1 in the new AP poll. But it’s a long way from ought-to-be to Sabanville and Meyerland. The Cardinals are fine for now at No. 3 behind Alabama and Ohio State.

3. Did you catch Michael Vick’s tweet about Louisville’s emerging superstar at quarterback? Vick wrote: “Lamar Jackson 5x better than I was at [Virginia] Tech.” Jackson’s performance through three games — 1,377 total yards and 18 total touchdowns — has been the top story in college football. He’s certainly the early Heisman leader.

Yet I heard multiple television analysts refer to Jackson outright as the best quarterback in the country, and I’m not ready to go there yet. For now, give me Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.

 

 

4. Showtime’s ongoing documentary series on Florida State won’t be easy to watch after the Seminoles’ nightmare in Louisville. Better horror series: “Penny Dreadful” or “A Season With FSU”?

5. Ohio State’s enormously impressive 45-24 victory at Oklahoma moved the Buckeyes’ record in true road games under Urban Meyer to — are you ready for this? — a perfect 19-0. Let’s see if Jim Harbaugh ever gets close to that at Michigan.

6. Most interesting thing about Oregon’s three-point defeat at Nebraska: The Ducks attempted two-point conversions after all five of their touchdowns, converting the first one but whiffing on the last four. Gee, think they could’ve used, say, four PATs instead? Not good, Mark Helfrich.

7. Helfrich looked like a coaching genius compared to Texas’ Charlie Strong, who had his team — trailing California by a touchdown — punt on fourth-and-10 with 1:41 to play. Did we mention the Bears had already put up 50 points? Shocker of shockers, the Longhorns offense didn’t see the field again.

8. Sorry, but your team isn’t half as cool as North Dakota State is. The Bison — winners of five straight FCS national titles — beat Iowa on a field goal at the gun for their sixth consecutive victory over an FBS opponent. Whatever their secret formula is, no one else has it.

9. Illinois’ Wes Lunt is a highly skilled passer — five bucks says he’ll make an NFL roster next year — but the Illini need a quarterback who can run around some. Especially with an offensive line that’s still subpar, Lunt’s immobility is too limiting. It’s just not a good fit.

10. Northern Illinois is 0-3 for the first time since 2007, when the Huskies were 2-10 in Joe Novak’s final season. It can’t get that bad, can it? Surely not, but the ’07 season also was the last time NIU failed to get to a bowl game — and that clearly could be the case with this team.

Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com


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