Irish need to stifle Navarre

Stopping Michigan quarterback John Navarre will be key for Tyrone Willlingham and the Irish, while Arkansas and Texs have to stuff the run.

Updated: September 10, 2003, 5:12 PM ET
By Lee Corso | Special to ESPN.com

In your opinion, what are Notre Dame's chances against Michigan? Do you think Notre Dame's defense can contain Chris Perry and John Navarre?
Jon, Indiana

The Irish certainly have a chance in the Big House. Any team that can come back from 19 points down to beat an opponent like Washington State has a shot against the Wolverines. The key for Notre Dame's defense will be stopping John Navarre, who hasn't had to throw much in the first two games. Shutting down the passing game will make it easier to key on Chris Perry, who leads the nation so far with 416 rushing yards.

And Michigan's defense does not seem as strong as it has been in the past, so I think Notre Dame's offense will be able to control the ball a little bit. The running game is strong for the Irish, and the most important part of the attack might be quarterback Carlyle Holiday's ability to run the ball. The Wolverines need to contain him on the ground.

Editor's Note
Lee Corso and the rest of the GameDay crew can't get to every campus this season, so ESPN.com has given fans another option: It's called "Lee-Mail." Lee has an opinion on just about anything related to college football. So, go ahead and send him a question. He'll answer questions each Wednesday during the season in "Lee-Mail."

Your pick of South Carolina over Virginia was impressive. Do the Gamecocks have a chance against Georgia in Athens this weekend? Why or why not?
Andy Ferris, Columbia, S.C.

Why not? As long as South Carolina can run the ball like it did against Virginia (261 yards on 49 carries), the Gamecocks are in good shape. And with Lou Holtz working with the defense, things are looking sound on that side of the ball. I know Virginia was without ACC Offensive player of the year Matt Schaub last week, but holding a team to just 170 total yards is still impressive.

With Jeff Smoker and Agim Shabaj looking good in the passing game, can Michigan State be competitive in the Big Ten this year?
Cole, Michigan

Absolutely. John L. Smith is a fine coach and Smoker has looked excellent, throwing for 675 yards and six touchdowns. The overall talent level is improved as well, and the Spartans have a chance to beat any team in the Big Ten. They're probably not a contender for the title, but they certainly will be competitive.

Where do you think the Iowa Hawkeyes will end up this season, seeing how a lot of the teams predicted to finish high in the Big Ten had some trouble last weekend?
Ryan Beary, Iowa

I've always been a big fan of running back Fred Russell, and his ability to break big runs will be a key in the improvement of the entire team. The Hawkeyes have to continue to get better, because the schedule is going to he a lot tougher than Miami (Ohio) and Buffalo. The defense has also looked solid and Iowa is definitely a good team, but the Hawkeyes are probably not as good as four or five other teams in the conference.

What chance does Arkansas have at Texas this weekend?
Stock, Fayetteville, Ark.

The key to the entire game is stopping the run. The defense that is better against the running game will lead its team to a win. Arkansas has to contain Cedric Benson and Selvin Young, while Texas has to key on Cedric Cobbs. Special teams will also be a big factor with Texas having looked good in that facet in its opener. The Razorbacks have a chance, but they will have to be very effective in each of those parts of the game. I'm looking forward to this one.

Darius Watts
Darius Watts has the speed to run away from just about anyone in the MAC.
What do think about this year's Marshall team? The Herd looked strong against Tennessee.
Rick, Atlanta, Ga.

Marshall is a fine team, but they will be hurt by the injury to quarterback Stan Hill. He is a terrific young player with speed and agility in the pocket, and the Herd will miss his running ability. But yes, Marshall looked good against Tennessee and there is more talent on the offensive side of the ball, starting with play-making receiver Darius Watts. The game at Kansas State will be extremely tough, even though both teams could be without their starting quarterbacks (KSU's Ell Roberson has a hand injury that could keep him out until October). But if Hill gets back and stays healthy for the rest of the year, Marshall looks like one of the best teams in the Mid-America Conference.

Lee, Is BYU's 3-3-5 defense that difficult to figure out or did the Cougars expose USC's offensive shortcomings last weekend?
Matt Combs, Chattanooga, Tenn.

BYU's defense is sometimes confusing, but more than anything USC had an emotional letdown. The Trojans went into Auburn and shut out what some people said was the best team in the country, and playing at home against BYU just doesn't have the same feeling. The mental letdown led to some physical breakdowns, but USC will be fine when the competition picks up again.

What are Washington State's chances going into Boulder to face Colorado after last week's heartbreaking loss at Notre Dame? Will the Cougars have anything left in the tank?
Wazzu Fan, Albany, N.Y.

Washington State had Notre Dame beaten and gave the game away, so it's up to head coach Bill Doba to get his players mentally ready. He has to impress upon them that they played tough against one of the best teams in the nation in a very hostile environment. If Doba can get the players to realize how well they played in the first half at South Bend and not let them worry about how good Colorado may or may not be, they should be fine because the Cougars proved how well they can perform on the field.

Lee Corso is an analyst for ESPN College GameDay. His "Lee-Mail" column appears every Wednesday.

Lee Corso

College Football analyst
Lee Corso, one of college football's most knowledgeable, opinionated and entertaining analysts, is a game analyst for the Thursday night telecasts and a studio analyst for College GameDay. Corso joined ESPN in 1987 after 28 years of football coaching experience.