Two more late games on ESPNU fill out a quality day of programming; you'll forgive me if I don't use this space to talk about Breaking Bad.
Tonight, we're served with one game that features two teams who weren't involved in the early slate and one with two that were.
No. 4 - Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31
A sloppy affair that was one-sided for the first two quarters, this provided one of the better finishes of the year. In fact, the finish was indicative of the quality of the game. Michigan QB Denard Robinson drops back and throws a sloppy back-footed duck instead of stepping up into the pocket. Michigan WR Roy Roundtree would elude Notre Dame CB Gary Gray for the winning TD with just two seconds left (I'm being nice to Gray here) as the Big House erupted. It was messy football, but it sure was fun to watch.
(NOTE: If you like turnovers, this is your kind of game. Robinson threw a trio of picks, while Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees added a pair of his own. Unwilling to be bested in this department, the Irish fumbled the ball away three times. Like I said, sloppy, but entertaining.)
Much of the talk surrounding Michigan these days has to do with recruiting. Their 2012 class was very strong especially on the defensive side, and their 2013 class is arguably the best in the country as things stand. So while the 2015 and '16 NFL Drafts may feature some Wolverines early on, there are still some quality prospects out of Ann Arbor to track in the interim. OT Taylor Lewan could be a day one guy next April. DE Craig Roh is a handful. And while Robinson just doesn't factor as an NFL QB prospect, he's too athletic to not be picked as some kind of WR/ATH, IMO. True sophomore Blake Countess is someone I have my eye on as well. He had a really good bowl performance against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. And while he didn't play in this game, RS freshman OL Chris Bryant is humongous. If he makes the starting line in 2012, he'll be fun to watch.
On ND's side (and ignoring the QB drama), MLB Manti Te'o is their best senior prospect by a wide margin. Overall, he and TE Tyler Eifert are the best options in the 2013 NFL Draft, assuming Eifert declares as a RS junior. RB Cierre Wood and C Braxston Cave are quality players. DE Kapron Lewis-Moore was playing well before a mid-season injury ended his season. It should be interesting to see how the offense operates without Michael Floyd this year.
No. 3 - #6 Stanford 56, USC 48 (3OT)
I covered some of the prospects in the earlier post, so I'll keep this short and about the game itself. This was an incredible game; in all honesty, I tuned in late as I was watching Georgia Tech-Clemson and Ohio State-Wisconsin at first. Catching the fourth quarter and the subsequent overtimes was plenty drama for me. When I went back and watched the game a few weeks later, what made this so enjoyable was that it wasn't an offensive matchup until the halftime adjustments.
Coming out of the half, both offenses looked much more capable of battling their respective opposing defenses. By leaving all the drama late, the pace of the game was perfect. And matching touchdown for touchdown in the first two overtimes before Curtis McNeal fumbled the ball into the endzone as Stanford recovered for the win, it was an exhausting contest that kept Stanford's national championship hopes alive.