Irish make rare visit to 'Husker country; Miami tries on No. 1

Saturday, September 8, 2001

Even on the third weekend of the season, there are still a few more firsts to go around.

There's Notre Dame's first visit to Nebraska in 53 years, Jim Tressel's debut as Ohio State's coach and Miami's first game as the No. 1 team in nine years.

In addition to the 17th-ranked Fighting Irish visiting the fifth-ranked Cornhuskers tonight, there are three other games matching Top 25 teams: No. 11 Michigan at No. 15 Washington, No. 19 Fresno State at No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 21 South Carolina at No. 25 Georgia.

"Everybody's excited, everybody's ready to play," Huskers tight end Tracey Wistrom. "You'd be crazy if you weren't."

Last season, Notre Dame nearly upset then-No. 1 Nebraska before losing 27-24 in overtime on Eric Crouch's 7-yard touchdown run.

"Last year there was a lot of anticipation building up to the game," Crouch said. "It seems to be the same way this year."

The Huskers are 2-0; the Irish are playing their first game of the season. Crouch, a Heisman Trophy contender, is off to a slow start with 260 yards passing and 117 yards and two TDs rushing. Matt LoVecchio opens at quarterback for Notre Dame.

When the Buckeyes open against Akron -- their first game since 1987 without John Cooper as coach -- the famed marching band will play "Fanfare to a New Era."

Some players aren't so sure how the season will unfold under Tressel, who led Youngstown State to four I-AA titles in 15 years. In Cooper's last two seasons, Ohio State lost 10 of 24 games.

"Right now I feel the team is real tight," linebacker Joe Cooper said. "The coaching staff is doing some things different. We'll see what happens once we start getting into these battles."

Akron won its opener, 31-29 against Ohio, on Zac Derr's 38-yard field goal as time expired.

A heavy favorite

Miami should have an easy time against Rutgers, coached by former Hurricanes defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.

"Nobody knows better than I do how good Miami is," Schiano said. "But we'll go down there and play the best we can."

The Hurricanes are favored by 44 points. Although the talent pool favors Miami, the coaches do have something in common -- both Schiano and Miami's Larry Coker won in their coaching debuts. Miami beat Penn State 33-7; Rutgers defeated Buffalo 31-15.

In other Top 25 games today, it's Louisiana-Monroe at No. 2 Florida, North Texas at No. 3 Oklahoma, North Carolina at No. 4 Texas, UAB at No. 6 Florida State, Utah at No. 7 Oregon, No. 8 Tennessee at Arkansas, Western Michigan at No. 9 Virginia Tech and No. 10 Georgia Tech at Navy.

Also, it's No. 12 Kansas State at USC, Utah State at No. 13 LSU, No. 14 UCLA at Kansas, Wofford at No. 20 Clemson and No. 22 Oregon State at New Mexico State.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: