Irish excited to test themselves against the best

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Irish excited to test themselves against the best

Notre Dame may be 12-0 and ranked No. 1, but make no mistake: they're major underdogs to Alabama in next month's BCS Championship.

While some players are drawing motivation from that status -- an "us vs. the world" mentality continues to resonate -- others see the BCS Championship as a chance to see where they stand against a team regarded as the best in the country.

"A team from the SEC, a team like Alabama, coached by Nick Saban, those guys will make you better all around," defensive tackle Louis Nix said. "Im just happy we get a chance to play these guys in the National Championship."

His defensive coordinator agreed.

"The fact of the matter is Alabama is king of the hill," Bob Diaco said. "Have you ever played King of the Hill? Did you walk up the hill and knock the guy off? Thats what weve gotta do. Theyre King of the Hill. They set the precedent for defensive football in the country."

Notre Dame's front seven might have the toughest challenge on Jan. 7, going up against an Alabama offensive line loaded with pro prospects. Nix may have the most important matchup, squaring off against All-American center Barrett Jones.

"That gives me an opportunity to better myself and see where I fit at in the country with other nose tackles that went up against him," Nix said.

While Notre Dame's focus is just on this one game, there's plenty the Irish can learn -- win or lose -- from Alabama, in terms of consistency within a program. The Tide will play in their third title game in four years next month, a fact which isn't lost on coach Brian Kelly.

"Alabama has been the benchmark for college football," Kelly explained. "... Were aware of the challenge in front of us. We welcome it. It's one that were putting ourselves in a position to go find out where we need to go from here."

Hawkeyes receiver Matt VandeBerg out indefinitely with foot injury

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Hawkeyes receiver Matt VandeBerg out indefinitely with foot injury

Iowa will be without its top receiver for the foreseeable future.

The Hawkeyes announced Tuesday that wideout Matt VandeBerg is out indefinitely after suffering a foot injury — reported Monday night to be a broken foot — in practice on Monday.

“It is unfortunate that Matt will miss some time due to his injury,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said in the announcement. “We know that Matt will work extremely hard to get back on the field as soon as possible. We feel confident that some of our younger receivers will step up in Matt’s absence.”

Iowa really can't afford to lose VandeBerg, who leads the team with 19 catches for 284 yards and three touchdowns through four games. Only one other player has double-digit catches: tight end George Kittle. Jerminic Smith and Riley McCarron are the next wideouts on the team's receiving list but have combined for just 13 catches on the season.

In his career, VandeBerg has 108 receptions for 1,282 yards and eight touchdowns.

Badgers' Brevin Pritzl gets medical hardship from NCAA

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Badgers' Brevin Pritzl gets medical hardship from NCAA

Wisconsin announced Monday that Brevin Pritzl received a medical-hardship waiver from the NCAA, giving him four remaining years of eligibility after he played in just one game for the Badgers as a freshman last season.

Pritzl was a highly ranked recruit for Wisconsin last year, rated as a four-star prospect and the No. 79 recruit in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.

After suffering a broken foot last season, Pritzl will return in 2016-17 along with most of the Badgers’ roster, including all five starters from a season ago, making them one of the favorites to win the Big Ten title.