There may have been only a few interesting matchups on Saturday. The good news is those games delivered on the hype. Let’s start in Ann Arbor, where Michigan played just its second night game in history.
The Wolverines beat Notre Dame 41-30 behind ole number 98 (quarterback Devin Gardner) and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon. Gardner has gotten plenty of hype, deservedly so, but the nation became more familiar with Gallon on Saturday night. He is listed at 5’8” but his size doesn’t limit him on the field. He is a threat to make plays on short, intermediate, or deep routes, near the sideline or over the middle, and regularly out jumps defensive backs. The senior caught eight passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns against the Irish, routinely coming back to the ball and displaying great field awareness after the catch, avoiding defenders with a nifty first cut.
Gardner and Gallon clearly have great chemistry. (In the spring Gardner posted a video online of himself completing an out route to Gallon with his eyes closed.) But if defenses start to cheat on Gallon, Gardner will have to adjust. On Saturday, seven other receivers caught a total of 13 passes. Gardner and Drew Dileo were perfectly in sync when they connected for the game-sealing touchdown. Sophomore tight end Devin Funchess has big play capability. But make no mistake: Gallon is Michigan’s—and possibly the Big Ten’s—best receiver.
Other observations from Under the Lights II:
- Weird seeing a quarterback wearing 98, wasn’t it? I like how Michigan is trying to honor former legends, but the concept is better in theory than in practice. If all the best players are given a uniform from a past Michigan great, those players will never get the chance to make their original number special. Let’s say Gardner wins the Heisman and a national championship before he graduates. Thirty years from now Michigan might want to slap a Gardner patch on a jersey, but what number would that be? It could be 12, Gardner’s original number, but if he wears 98 for the rest of his career he will have had just six starts at quarterback wearing No. 12. There are other potential problems, too. Funchess is wearing No. 87 this season in honor of Ron Kramer. I think Funchess has great potential, but he had 15 catches last year as a freshman. He’s talented, but there’s no guarantee he will be a star and live up to the honor. It might make more sense to simply retire the numbers.
- The Michigan Marching Band’s halftime show—a tribute to Beyonce—is available for viewing online and is highly recommended.
- Viewers at home were also treated to halftime awesomeness when Eminem stopped by the ESPN booth. We learned he is doing a Saturday night football intro song, which will debut next week (college football fans who also like rap music now have a reason to watch Notre Dame-Purdue). But we also learned that live TV freaks Eminem out. The look on his face kind of gave that away, but in case there were any doubts, he said, “Live TV freaks me out.” Later, when complimented by Brent Musburger, he said, “I’m really uncomfortable right now.” We learned that Musberger and Em are boys. “Mathers, it’s a pleasure to have you open the show.” That is something Brent Musburger said. Musburger is on Em’s “fantasy announcer team” along with Al Michaels, the retired John Madden, and the late Pat Summerall. Marshall Mathers’s dream is to have the all-M trio—Musberger, Michaels, and Madden—call a Detroit Lions game together. I’m nitpicking here, but those three are all play-by-play guys. Gotta have some diversity, Shady. The conversation ended with Musburger and Eminem saying to each other, “You are a legend, my friend.”
Taking a look at the rest of the country:
- Two of the sweatiest coaches in college football squared off when the Florida Gators visited Miami. The ’Canes won 21-16 in a sloppy but exciting game. Despite Florida having five turnovers, 10 penalties, and way too many players exposing their bellies, Miami couldn’t pull away. Nevertheless, it was the second straight week that the ACC earned a win over a highly-ranked SEC squad. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, whose team beat Georgia last week, bragged about the conference after Clemson’s pummeling of South Carolina State on Saturday. According to Clemson beat writer Greg Wallace, Swinney said, “How about that ACC? Spunky little old league?” before making “The U” sign and walking out of the press conference.
- For all the talk about Jadeveon Clowney and defense, Georgia beat South Carolina 41-30 in a game that featured nearly 1,000 yards of offense. At one point in the third quarter, a couple of Gamecock assistants got into a shoving and shouting match on the sidelines and had to be separated. And that was when the game was still tied.
Moving away from the high-profile matchups, did you watch any of the Michigan State-South Florida game? No? Can we trade eyeballs and memories? South Florida allowed 53 points to FCS McNeese State last week, but the Spartans could only muster 265 yards and one offensive touchdown against them. Through two games, Michigan State’s best offensive player, by far, is defensive end Shilique Calhoun. He has returned two fumbles and an interception for touchdowns, outpacing the Spartan offense, which has scored just twice this season. Perhaps that commercial where Michigan State is watching TV in the huddle is real. Maybe Mark Dantonio should try what Norfolk State did against Rutgers on Saturday and punt on third down. Yes, Norfolk really did this. Twice.
- BYU quarterback Taysom Hill rushed for 259 yards on Saturday against Texas; his team rushed for 550 and put up 679 yards of total offense in a 40-21 upset. The performance got Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz “reassigned within the athletic department.” (I hope you can still sleep at night, Taysom.) Unfortunately for Longhorns fans, Diaz will be replaced by Greg Robinson, whose previous work at Michigan and Syracuse doesn’t inspire confidence. Mack Brown’s decision to relieve Diaz so early in the season is not unprecedented; last year, both Houston and Wisconsin fired an assistant within the first two weeks of the season.
- I’m not gonna lie: I was a little disappointed in Goldie’s performance on Saturday. I thought she’d lead Tulsa on to the field; she did, but while sitting in a golf cart. We will have to wait until next season for the real deal. The team was inspired anyhow, beating Colorado State with a field goal as time expired.