The answer: not much.
Notre Dame has played both Rice and Michigan to a combined score of 79-17. Ole Miss has beaten their two opponents, Boise State and Vanderbilt 76-16.
Is it any fault of the schools? Not really. Rice is a cupcake game sure, but Michigan is a “rivalry” game for the Irish. Maybe, Michigan actually did just get dominated, but I’ve never seen a good team get routed like that; Michigan just pulled the Big Ten party lines by playing awful on Saturday.
The same can be said for Ole Miss. A neutral site game against Boise State and a road game against an SEC opponent that has been chippy in recent history. Sadly, James Franklin and Chris Peterson were not at the helm of Vandy and Boise. and it would seem the recent decline of the programs they left behind, is proof of that.
To this point of the early season, the two defenses have been impressive to say the least. Notre Dame is currently sixth in overall defense, averaging 8.5 points allowed a game, one slot behind the fifth ranked Rebels who are giving up just eight points. Those numbers are impressive regardless of who you are playing.
What we know offensively becomes a little hazy. Here’s what is for sure: Everett Golson is back, and his absence was heavily missed. His numbers aren’t gaudy, but it’s rare to see someone who is both a play-maker and a game manager in the same form. Golson is throwing for 260.5 yards per game. Bo Wallace, on that same note, has also racked up some impressive numbers. In fact, Ole Miss currently has the 7th best passing attack in the country (377 ypg).
And there are some rebuttals to be made. Michigan’s offense looked great week one against Appalachian State, and Boise State looked pretty good in their week two 37-24 beating of Colorado State. Be that as it may, I just don’t know what can be gathered (at least at this point of the season) from the first two games. Maybe Boise State and/or Michigan reel off some wins and we rehash the situation.
Notre Dame is currently ranked no. 11 in the AP poll, Ole Miss no. 14 – as they should be. They have taken care of business and there is certainly talent on both sides.
Here’s the downside: odds are we will continue to remain relatively in the dark until the October 4 weekend. The next two games for the Rebels? U-LAH-LAF… the Rajun Cajuns from Louisiana-Lafayette, and Memphis (who actually looked pretty damn good last week against UCLA, so I may have to eat my words here).
For Notre Dame, it’s much of the same, Purdue and Syracuse. Purdue just got torched by the MAC’s Central Michagan last week, and Syracuse (who coincidentally plays Central Michigan next), took 1AA Villanova into double overtime before squeaking out a week one win.
After those two games and a bye week, both teams will host ranked opponents at home. For Notre Dame, it will be current #15 Stanford, who just lost in an ugly contest with USC last week. Ole Miss will welcome Nick Saban and the#3 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide into Oxford, which will likely be a college game day affair if Ole Miss/Bama don’t slip up prior to the game.
What I’m not saying: Ole Miss and Notre Dame are not good teams and can’t contend for a conference title (in Ole Miss’s case) or a playoff/solid bowl birth.
What I am saying: After October 4 we will have a very good grip on how realistic expectations are for both squads.
*Section Photo credit to Spruce Derden, USA Today Sports; Featured Photo (above) credit to Associated Press