Notre Dame officially reinstated star receiver Michael Floyd from indefinite suspension on Wednesday. That was not welcome news for three Big Ten teams, but it does set up some potentially tantalizing individual matchups.
The Irish, of course, will play at Michigan in Week 2 (under the lights, no less), host Michigan State in Week 3 and travel to Purdue in Week 5. Here's a look at how the All-American receiver has fared in his first three years against each team:
2010: Five catches for 66 yards.
2009: Seven catches for 131 yards and 1 touchdown
2008: Two catches for 10 yards
vs. Michigan State
2010: Six catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns
2009: Two catches for 38 yards and one touchdown (Note: Floyd broke his clavicle during the game)
2008: Seven catches for 86 yards and one touchdown
2010: Five catches for 82 yards
2009: Did not play (injured)
2008: Six catches for 100 yards
As the Wolverines and Spartans can especially attest, Floyd can be a major difference-maker. How will each team defend him? Here's a look at those potentially juicy battles:
Michigan: Troy Woolfolk is back after missing the 2010 season with a foot injury, and the fifth-year senior is expected to be the Wolverines' top cornerback. He'll be put right to the test in Week 2.
Michigan State: An All-Big Ten second-teamer last year, Johnny Adams had a big spring and looks like a rising star for the Spartans. When Michigan State held its player draft for the spring game, Adams was the first guy selected. Floyd has had a lot of success versus Sparty when he has been healthy, so this will be a real challenge for Adams and the secondary in South Bend.
Purdue: Ricardo Allen just appeared in our Big Ten player rankings at No. 19. He had three interceptions and two pick-sixes last year, and Purdue has never given up a touchdown to Floyd. The problem for Allen is that he will be giving up about six inches to the 6-foot-3 Floyd.
Floyd's return makes Notre Dame a whole lot better and makes the Irish a tougher opponent for Big Ten teams. It also makes those games more fun to watch.