Practice not just about BCS Championship for Notre Dame

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Practice not just about BCS Championship for Notre Dame

With exactly one month until the BCS Championship, Notre Dame held its first bowl practice Friday as the team begins preparation for Alabama. But there's more to this month of practice -- interrupted by a six-day break for Christmas -- than breaking down what the Irish need to do to beat the Tide in South Florida.

As is the case with all bowl-eligible teams, the extra weeks of practice that come with a bowl bid are used to get reps for guys who haven't played much, or at all, in the regular season. That's no different for Notre Dame despite playing in the biggest bowl game of them all.

"We really think that weve got the nucleus of some great young players that are going to get a chance to develop in this time as well," coach Brian Kelly said. "Its going to be a little bit like preseason camp, where were going to have a chance to do a lot of fundamental work, were going to get some young guys running -- were going to see Amir Carlisle. Were going to get a chance to see some guys who havent played this year.

"Thats really exciting to me and our coaches, theres no question about that, as well as getting our guys' weight back up and getting stronger in the weight room and developing our football team and getting a little bit more (weight) on an Everett Golson. Those are really exciting because they move your program along. And then get a chance to focus on Alabama."

Carlisle, a running back who transferred to Notre Dame from USC but redshirted in 2012 with an ankle injury, is one of a handful of players who will get early looks for 2013 in the coming weeks. Gunner Kiel, who also redshirted, is among the high-profile players who should get a look as well.

But it's not just about guys who redshirted. Plenty of freshmen played, but not frequently and will get an extended chance to develop in December. One of last year's emerging stars from bowl practice was Stephon Tuitt, who emerged in 2012 as one of the nation's top defensive ends.

"From that point to the bowl game, it hit me to know about the defense," Tuitt said earlier this year. "It was all better, it was all comfortable then."

As for what Notre Dame will work on in preparation for Alabama, topping the list is red zone efficiency. The Irish scored on 79 percent of their trips to the red zone, good for the 78th-best rate among FBS teams. More concerning, though, is the offense only converted a red zone opportunity into a touchdown 46.5 percent of the time -- the sixth-worst rate in the nation.

It's no surprise, then, that Notre Dame kicked more field goals (19) on red zone trips than any other FBS team. That's something that the Irish recognize has to change.

"We definitely have to improve. We're not there yet, we don't feel like it," running back Theo Riddick said after the USC game. " coach Kelly is going to set up some things to actually let us score touchdowns, because we have to. We have to get better at that being in the red zone. We're going to do that, and we're going to be okay."

Northwestern to play home basketball games at Allstate Arena in 2017-18

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Northwestern to play home basketball games at Allstate Arena in 2017-18

While Welsh-Ryan Arena undergoes a complete facelift, the Wildcats needed somewhere to play during the 2017-18 season.

That home location was announced Tuesday. Northwestern will play its home schedule at Allstate Arena in Rosemont during the 2017-18 campaign.

The previously announced renovation of Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2017 and finish up in the fall of 2018, ready for the 2018-19 season.

“We are excited to partner with Allstate Arena to host Northwestern men’s basketball games during the 2017-18 season while Welsh-Ryan Arena is undergoing its renovation,” Northwestern athletics director Jim Phillips said in the announcement. “The venue has a rich college basketball tradition in the Chicagoland area. I know that our fans will enjoy cheering on our team at Allstate Arena during what will be an exciting season.”

Certainly Allstate Arena is no stranger to college hoops. It's served as the home court for DePaul for decades and famously hosted the NCAA tournament Midwest Regional in 2005, when Illinois scored a remarkable win over Arizona to advance to the Final Four.

The renovation to Welsh-Ryan Arena promises a radically transformed venue for Northwestern hoops. Announced back in June, the renovation's details include new chair-back seating throughout the arena, new locker rooms and offices for the men's and women's basketball teams, new restrooms and concession areas for fans, as well as an expanded concourse, a new ticket office, an expanded lobby and an expansion of the N-Club, plus the retention of the recently installed video boards.

Spartans linebacker Jon Reschke to miss 'significant time' with ankle sprain

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Spartans linebacker Jon Reschke to miss 'significant time' with ankle sprain

The bad news keeps coming for the Michigan State linebacking corps.

A few days after Riley Bullough surprisingly sat out of the Spartans' big game against Wisconsin with an injury, fellow starter Jon Reschke will miss "significant time" with an ankle sprain, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio told reporters Tuesday.

There is better news on Bullough, who Dantonio said is day-to-day. Bullough was listed on the team's depth chart for this week's game against Indiana, though he was not listed as a starter.

Bullough surprised by walking out of the tunnel in street clothes just prior to kickoff against Wisconsin. Big Ten Network reported during the broadcast that Bullough sustained his injury even prior to Michigan State's Week 3 win over Notre Dame and that it could keep him sidelined for multiple weeks.

It remains to be seen how that will play out, but certainly the Spartans could've used him against the Badgers, who behind a first-time starting quarterback in Alex Hornibrook had a stellar performance in a 30-6 win.

Bullough and Reschke have combined for 25 tackles and three tackles for loss, with Bullough playing in the first two games of the season and Reschke appearing in the first three. Reschke also has an interception and a forced fumble to his name.

Being without Reschke for a significant amount of time will be tough for the Spartans — Dantonio said Tuesday he's optimistic that the injury isn't season-ending — though that's made much tougher the longer Bullough stays on the sideline.

Plus, Michigan State is still working Ed Davis back into action. The senior had to wait until after the start of the season to learn if he'd receive an additional season of eligibility. Davis has played just very briefly this season, though he is listed on the depth chart. His return to form could be a big help, as Dantonio mentioned.