PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

Fear, fear for Old Notre Dame.  The Fighting Irish find themselves 1-3 entering October with their preseason #10 ranking a distant memory.  It’s one thing to lose in double-overtime at Texas, another to lose at home to a top-20 Michigan State.  But to Duke?  At home?  What in the name of Gerry Faust is going on?  This was a program that finished a field goal away from making the College Football Playoff last fall…and instead has fallen on tough times.  Look no further than a defense that’s allowed 35+ points in five of their last six games dating back to last November.  Bad news for Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder…who gets the pink slip.  Coach Brian Kelly turned around the mess he inherited, but has more five-loss seasons that double-digit win campaigns in South Bend.  His most impressive bowl win with the Irish?  Not to talk smack about the Music City or Pinstripe Bowl, but you have to go back to the Sun Bowl.  For a fan base that is largely non-alumni and thus doesn’t understand the academic mission or difficulty getting Florida kids to want to play in a small northern Indiana city, patience is not a virtue. 

Maryland (3-0) and Navy (3-0) had the week off…while another local school reaches the 3-0 mark. Georgetown beats Columbia 17-14 to move within one victory of last year’s total. Credit a defense that’s allowing just 15 points a game…as well as the smart play of senior quarterback Matt Barnes (59% completion rate with a 6 to 2 TD to INT rate). Two more games against Ivy League foes precede Patriot League play.

Alma Mater Update- the Orange bounce back from two tough home losses to post a victory at UConn.  Eric Dungey throws for major yardage again and the defense plays in a way that makes one realize that autumn Saturdays are the wrong days to stop sniffing glue.  But 2-2 after one month is welcome in light of recent falls…although October could be more tricks than treats with Notre Dame and Virginia Tech on the slate.  Brace yourselves…

Virginia (1-3) avoided disaster by holding off a Central Michigan rally…notching the first victory of the Bronco Mendenhall era with a 49-35 triumph over the Chippewas.  The Wahoo faithful can rest easy…for a few minutes.  Cavalier Congrats-Kurt Benkert threw for 421 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Olamide Zaccheaus notched 8 catches for 141 yards and 2 scores-with his 82 yard scoring strike turning the game around in the second half.  Linebacker Zach Bradshaw tallied 6 tackles, 3 assists, 2 pass breakups and a sack.  The moscato glass is definitely half full!  Cavalier Concerns- the porous pass defense allowed over 400 yards and had trouble getting off the field on third down (CMU converted 9-19).  And they blew a 28-point first half lead.  Not ideal as they enter conference play.  Thank goodness UVa plays in the Coastal Division.  Next- Saturday at 2-2 Duke, 12:30 p.m.  Didn’t the Blue Devils just win at Notre Dame?

Virginia Tech (3-1) put away the ghosts of Upsets Past with a 54-17 thumping of East Carolina.  The Pirates have played VT close in each of their previous four meetings this decade…winning the last two years.  No such September stagger this time.  Hokie Highlights- Jerod Evans threw for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns while running for 97 yards and another score.  Ken Ekanem tallies two sacks while Chuck Clark leads the defense with 11 tackles as ECU converts just 3-14 third downs…and gets just one score in 3 trips to the red zone.  Greg Stroman got things going with an 87-yard punt return for a TD.  One thinks he may get to wear #25 in practice this week. Hokie Humblings- tough to find blemishes in an impressive game where they led 38-0 at the half.  The offense was held to 5-14 on third down…and two deep touchdown passes allowed in the second half is never ideal.  Next- October 8th at 3-1 North Carolina.

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