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Games of the week

Notre Dame at Michigan, Purdue at Oregon and Brigham Young versus Tulane make the list.

September 10, 2009|Chris Dufresne

Saturday, 12:30 p.m.,

Channel 7

Two of college football's storied franchises meet in Ann Arbor in another huge game for the careers of coaches Charlie Weis and Rich Rodriguez. Weis entered his fifth season knowing he probably needs to win nine games to keep his job, and his team came out fighting with a 35-0 win against Nevada. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen looked sharp and the defense looked sharper. Rodriguez, whose 3-9 season in his first year in Ann Arbor made the blue-bloods suspicious, entered the season with scandalous contentions of NCAA cheating. Rodriguez held tempers at bay with a 31-7 opening win against Western Michigan. But the heat gets turned back up in this one. Notre Dame claims the all-time lead with 11 national titles; Michigan leads major colleges with 873 all-time wins. Notre Dame won last year in South Bend but was embarrassed, 38-0, two years ago in Ann Arbor.

Notre Dame (1-0) at Michigan (1-0)

The pick: Notre Dame.

Purdue (1-0) at Oregon (0-1)

Saturday, 7:15 p.m., FSN

They say the biggest improvement comes between Weeks 1 and 2, and Oregon had better hope so. First-year Coach Chip Kelly endured one of the ugliest and most inauspicious debuts of all-time when his team failed to generate a first down until the third quarter in an 18-9 loss at Boise State. The evening ended with LaGarrette Blount's right cross connecting on Byron Hout's chin. Blount was suspended for the season and Kelly's resolve was immediately tested. Aside from the stain on the program, Oregon also lost its top rusher. It was holding tryouts this week and was even looking at backup quarterback Darron Thomas as a replacement. This is make-or-break for Oregon, which has home games against Purdue, Utah and California to earn back some lost respect. Danny Hope had a much better head-coaching debut at Purdue -- the Boilermakers cruised to a 52-31 win against Toledo.

The pick: Oregon.

Brigham Young (1-0) vs. Tulane (0-1)

Saturday at

Louisiana Superdome

12:30 p.m., ESPN2

This is a classic "trap" game for Brigham Young, which has to play Tulane in between Oklahoma and Florida State. It has been a week of back slaps in Provo, Utah, for the Cougars, fresh off a 14-13 upset win over No. 3 Oklahoma. BYU had lost 12 straight games to ranked nonconference opponents dating to 1998. Tulane is coming off a 2-10 season and gained only 39 rushing yards in a loss to Tulsa. Tulane has also been hit with the flu bug, and Coach Bob Toledo is understandably playing up the wounded underdog angle. He talked this week about BYU's two-year Mormon mission experience advantage. "I heard there's like 40-something guys that are married on that football team and I know they have kids too," Toledo joked. "I know one guy went away as a quarterback and when he came back he was a nose tackle."

The pick: BYU.

-- Chris Dufresne

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