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Notre Dame’s Opponents: QB injuries bring intrigue to Pac-12 matchup

Northwestern v Stanford

PALO ALTO, CA - AUGUST 31: Stanford Cardinal quarterback K.J. Costello #3 runs the ball downfield during a game between Northwestern and Stanford Football at Stanford Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images).

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For all the fun the opening weekend of the season brings, the second week can fill with sudden, unwanted doldrums. Five of No. 8 Notre Dame’s dozen opponents welcome FCS-level challenges while another pair have the weekend off, just as the Irish do.

Louisville (0-1): The 35-17 loss to Notre Dame was an upbeat moral victory in many’s eyes.

The Cardinals now face FCS-level Eastern Kentucky at 7 ET (ACC Network Extra), one of few expected wins for Louisville. Despite the claims of Monday night’s broadcast, those will be hard to find for the Cardinals and first-year head coach Scott Satterfield.

New Mexico (1-0): A 39-31 victory against Sam Houston State was quickly overshadowed when a “serious medical incident” sent Lobos head coach Bob Davie to a hospital in an ambulance immediately after the game. The former Irish coach has since left the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, but he will not make his return to Notre Dame next week. In his place, New Mexico offensive line coach Saga Tuitele will serve as head coach. The Lobos are off this week.

Georgia (1-0): A 30-6 win at Vanderbilt was about as boring as it sounds for the No. 3 Bulldogs, who gained 323 rushing yards on 40 carries, an 8.1 yards per attempt average.

The same should be expected this weekend against FCS-level Murray State (4 ET; ESPN2).

Virginia (1-0): Winning 30-14 at Pittsburgh was more impressive than it may sound. Opening the season with a decisive road victory against a divisional rival is a statement, as is holding that rival to 78 rushing yards on 30 carries, especially when that rival has long prided itself on a blue-collar offensive approach.

The Cavaliers host FCS-level William & Mary tonight (8 ET; ACC Network).

Bowling Green (1-0): The Falcons started their season with an FCS opponent, having no trouble with Morgan State in a 46-3 victory. That is the most Bowling green has scored since November of 2015.

Now it is the Falcons’ turn to be in trouble as 24-point underdogs at Kansas State (12 ET). The combined point total over/under of 58.5 suggests a 41-17 conclusion. While the Wildcats are far from a strong team these days, they should win easily. That point total, however, is intriguing when recognizing that Bowling Green has played 12 games against Power Five opponents since 2014. Those games have averaged 72.5 total points, with only two of them falling below 58.5.

Fresno State v USC

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: JT Daniels #18 of the USC Trojans in crutches, celebrates a 31-23 win over Fresno State Bulldogs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 31, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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USC (1-0): A 31-23 victory against Fresno State gained pyrrhic status when sophomore quarterback J.T. Daniels was lost for the year with a torn ACL. The Trojans’ season will now rest on the arm of freshman Kedon Slovis. That is a season that already bore mixed expectations, making a cloudy future even more foreboding.

Things could spiral quickly. USC is a three-point home favorite against Stanford (10:30 ET; ESPN) with a point total over/under of 44. A final score of 23-20 may sound mundane, but the drama around Trojans head coach Clay Helton that would accompany it could make for some midnight intrigue.

Michigan (1-0): The No. 7 Wolverines beat Middle Tennessee State 40-21, but the game was sloppy and overall not a great look for a top-10 team.

Possibly an even uglier game awaits Michigan with Army’s arrival (12 ET; Fox). The Wolverines may be favored by 22, but the Black Knights and their triple-option should muck things up enough to render any conclusions inapplicable. Army likes to grind games to a halt, hence a point total over/under of 48, making for a 35-13 projected ending.

Virginia Tech (0-1): The Hokies stubbed their toes in the second quarter at Boston College, giving up 21 points on their way to losing 35-28.

They will attempt to forget about that quickly as a chance for revenge awaits with a visit from Old Dominion (12 ET; ACC Network). Virginia Tech is favored by 28.5 with a point total over/under of 56. Winning 42-14 may not be enough to erase the embarrassment of losing to the Monarchs last season.

Duke: The Blue Devils were never going to compete with No. 2 Alabama, and they didn’t, falling 42-3 and gaining a total of 204 yards of offense.

If anyone deserves a game against an FCS-level opponent, it is Duke, and here comes North Carolina A&T (6 ET; ACC Network Extra).

Navy: The Midshipmen cruised past FCS-level Holy Cross, 45-7. With an idle week now on hand, nothing more needs to be discussed here.

Boston College: The Eagles received a stellar performance from junior quarterback Anthony Brown to beat Virginia Tech. Brown threw for 276 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-26 passing, adding in a rushing touchdown.

Brown’s hot start should continue against FCS-level Richmond (4:30 ET; ACC Network Extra).

Stanford: The No. 23 Cardinal slipped by Northwestern 17-7. That may not seem worthy of the verb “slipped,” but a last-minute fumble recovery in the end zone camouflaged some of the evening’s ineptitude and mattered a great deal to many viewers of a certain ilk.

Part of that ineptitude stemmed from All-American candidate left tackle Walker Little dislocating his knee. He will miss 4-6 weeks. More of it resulted from senior quarterback KJ Costello taking a nasty forearm to the head in the first half and missing the rest of the game. He has been ruled out of action this week.

That leaves sophomore David Mills to lead Stanford to USC in a matchup of backups.