first_imgThough the hype last weekend surrounded No. 1 Ohio State traveling to No. 2 Texas, this weekend’s marquee game involves a more time-honored rivalry as Michigan will play Notre Dame in another match up of two schools with national championship aspirations.Last season, the Wolverines were upset by the Fighting Irish 17-10 in The Big House, but this year No. 11 Michigan will try to avenge that loss as they travel to South Bend to face No. 2 Notre Dame.So far, the Wolverines have been carried by the stellar play of junior running back Mike Hart. Hart, who has run for 262 yards over the team’s first two games, appears to have benefited from Michigan’s installation of a zone blocking scheme which opens up more holes for him to run through.”I think Mike Hart would be an outstanding football player regardless of the scheme,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said in the Big Ten’s weekly teleconference. “I think the repetition that he gets by utilizing primarily a zone scheme, I think he likes it, and that’s important in the big picture.”Hart’s ability to run the ball successfully will be crucial to the outcome of the game, but whether Michigan relies on the legs of Hart or the arm of quarterback Chad Henne comes down to how the Wolverines play on the other side of the ball.”I think every game is dictated by how you play defensively,” Carr said.Notre Dame will certainly challenge the Michigan defense as they are led by Heisman Trophy favorite Brady Quinn, a quarterback who has excelled under second-year coach Charlie Weiss.The Wolverines will be looking to discontinue a pattern of losses in their road openers, a series of losses some critics have attributed to weak home scheduling, but a thought dismissed by Carr.”I think it’s a combination of things and hopefully we’ll find the answer to that question this week,” Carr said.Though both teams are 2-0, Michigan has beaten two relatively weak opponents at home, while Notre Dame has challenged themselves by traveling to Georgia Tech and playing Penn State at home.Tate-less Iowa Avoids Upset, In-State Matchup AheadThe No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes were nearly upset on the road last week by a lowly Syracuse team. Drew Tate, one of the most highly touted quarterbacks in the country, missed the game and the Hawkeyes needed an emotional goal line stand to prevail in double overtime.This week, Iowa will play in-state rival Iowa State. The Cyclones took last year’s rivalry 23-3 and though the game lacks conference implications, it does have a lot of significance as one of the country’s most hotly contested in-state rivalry games.”It’s a one week season,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s a huge game for both teams; it’s a huge game for everyone in this state.”The big question heading into the game will be the health of Tate, who threw for 22 touchdowns last season.”We’re optimistic, but that being said you’re dealing with a muscle strain so there’s no way to predict it,” Ferentz said. “We’re hopeful that this week he looks good and if so he’ll be our starting quarterback.Northwestern Shocked By I-AA OpponentNorthwestern was shocked by division I-AA opponent New Hampshire this past weekend, losing the game 34-17. The loss followed an emotional week — one victory in the Wildcats’ first game following the sudden death of head coach Randy Walker.”On any given Saturday anyone can win,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “You need to come ready to play for any game.”Fitzgerald did recognize, however, that his own team was to blame as well for their embarrassing loss. “At some point in the last 48 hours of the business trip we lost our mental edge and our mental focus,” he said.Northwestern will not overlook this week’s opponent, Eastern Michigan, even though the Eagles enter 0-2. Fitzgerald called last week’s loss a “learning experience” and didn’t downplay this week’s opponent at all.”Their record doesn’t show it at 0-2, but [Eastern Michigan] is a football team that is very hungry and plays very well.”last_img

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