Severe weather hampers college football in Midwest

September 4, 2011

The Associated Press

(AP/Tony Ding)
Image of Dopler weather radar as the college football game between Michigan and Western Michigan is halted in a rain delay.

Michigan has beaten Western Michigan 34-10 in a game stopped late in the third quarter because of lightning.

Both schools agreed to cancel the game with 1:27 left in the third quarter following a second weather delay on Saturday.

Michigan's next game is a prime-time matchup at home against Notre Dame.

The Number 16 Fighting Irish lost to South Florida 23-20 on Saturday. The game was delayed twice for several hours as severe storms rolled through South Bend, Indiana. Lightning forced both teams and fans to take shelter, with one bolt caught on video striking very close to the stadium's broadcast booth.

Meantime, Eastern Michigan's scheduled game against Howard University in Ypsilanti was postponed due to severe weather Saturday night. That game will be played at 11 a.m. Central/Noon Eastern time on Sunday.

For Notre Dame, the weather was a sideshow to a disappointing start to their season.

Before two severe weather delays that stopped the game for a total of nearly three hours Saturday, the No. 16 Fighting Irish hurt themselves with five turnovers — three inside the South Florida 10-yard line — in a 23-20 loss to the Bulls.

Not even a switch in quarterback from struggling Dayne Crist to Tommy Rees after a 2-hour, 10-minute halftime could rescue them.

"Today was probably the strangest game any of us have ever been a part of," said Rees, who completed 24 of 34 passes for 296 yards with two TD passes and two interceptions.

Crist had a miserable first half, hitting just 7 of 15 passes and drawing the ire of head coach Brian Kelly on the sidelines. Crist had won a camp competition with Rees to regain his starter's role following his second straight season-ending knee injury a year ago.

"All week, both of us competed and prepared like we were going to play and you just have to keep your head about you during the week and be ready to play," Rees said.

Rees had led the Irish to four straight wins to close last season as a starter, but Kelly chose the more experienced Crist to lead the 2011 Irish. Now he'll have to look at it again.

"We didn't expect to have to make this move, obviously, so it's going to require us to obviously evaluate the quarterback situation and make another decision," Kelly said.

With the crowd getting restless over Notre Dame's erratic play as the teams left the field for halftime, and with lightning flashing near the stadium, officials asked fans to evacuate Notre Dame Stadium and decided to keep the teams in their locker rooms.

The long delay and the weather was not a factor, Kelly said.

"The chaos was on the field for me," he said. 


Freelancer Steve Lowe contributed to this report.