More Overtime (cont.)
This weekend Notre Dame will play an afternoon football game, take an eight-hour flight home and still make it back to campus earlier than it will after most road games this season.
Saturday's Emerald Isle Classic between Notre Dame and Navy at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, should be quite the spectacle -- organizers claim more than 30,000 fans are traveling from the States, and the game will be televised to the public in 66 countries and to U.S. armed forces in 175 countries -- but it's causing logistical headaches for the coaches.
"I love everything about Ireland," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said last week. "I'm not a big fan of playing football games in Ireland."
Kelly is less concerned with travel fatigue affecting his team Saturday than with the possible toll down the road. "It's the opener," said Kelly, whose team faces Purdue the following Saturday. "Those guys will play it at 2:00 in the morning. What I'm worried about is sleep, loss of sleep, and a cumulative fatigue factor that bites us three, four weeks down the road."
Notre Dame will practice at 6:15 a.m. this Wednesday in hopes of orienting itself to Dublin time (five hours ahead) in advance of Saturday's 9 a.m. ET kickoff. The Fighting Irish will then fly overnight on a chartered non-stop flight from South Bend, arriving at 7 a.m. Dublin time Thursday. Practice that day will take place on a rugby pitch adjacent to the stadium. Friday includes a walkthrough at the stadium and a sightseeing bus tour of the city, wrapping up with the traditional team mass at a Dublin castle.
By contrast, "We're going for a business trip," said Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. There won't be any sightseeing for the Midshipmen, who will also fly overnight to arrive Thursday but who have a bye in Week 2. "We're definitely going to hydrate," said Niumatalolo. We're going to do the best we can to get some sleep. We're definitely worried [about jet lag]."
With incumbent Tommy Rees suspended, redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson will make his debut as starter for the Irish. Meanwhile, starting tailback Cierre Wood won't make the trip following Sunday's announced two-game suspension. Notre Dame football seemingly never lacks drama.
Curiosity over Golson -- not to mention the teams' first meeting abroad since 1996 -- may draw some early-morning viewers away from GameDay, which means fans can conceivably watch 17 consecutive hours of football Saturday. In fact, Oregon (against Arkansas State), Oklahoma (against UTEP) and Arizona (against Toledo) should still be in action when Notre Dame lands back home at 12:30 a.m. ET.
A year from now Boise State will play in an actual BCS conference -- albeit one that will only hold that designation until 2014 -- where a missed field goal may no longer mark the difference between the Fiesta Bowl and the Maaco Bowl. In the meantime the Broncos will play their annual season-opening showcase, on Friday night at No. 13 Michigan State. Only this time there's no Kellen Moore; or Doug Martin; or the five 2011 defensive linemen currently on NFL rosters.
After enjoying minimal roster turnover the past few years, Chris Petersen's program returns the fewest starters (six) of any team in the country. Few of the replacements are green, because Boise employs deep positional rotations and pulls its starters from so many conference blowouts. Guys like tailback D.J. Harper (1,655 career yards), receiver Kirby Moore (43 catches in two seasons) and linebacker J.C. Percy (48 tackles last season) are de facto returning starters.
But when it comes to quarterback and defensive line, Boise's two strongest areas the past few seasons, the Broncos are essentially starting over.
The man charged with replacing four-year star Moore is fourth-year junior Joe Southwick, who officially earned the job last week. He was 23-of-30 for 198 yards in limited action last season, but he saw his most time against Tulsa and New Mexico. And unlike in Moore's first season in 2008, Southwick won't enjoy the luxury of opening up against Idaho State. Rather, he'll open against William Gholston and the rest of the Spartans' top 10 defense.
"Unfortunately for us and for Joe, [Michigan State] probably isn't a great team to go against and gain confidence," Petersen said Sunday. Even with a 73-6 record the past six years, many still view Boise as a cuddly underdog. For once, that may actually be accurate.
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