Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/20/14

Notre Dame will fly across the Atlantic Ocean for Saturday's season opener against rival Navy, but they will do so without one of their top offensive players. Senior running back Cierre Wood was suspended from the team for the first two games of the season as a result of violating team rules, head coach Brian Kelly announced Sunday. Junior defensive end Justin Utupo will also serve a two-game suspension for the same undisclosed reasons.

“Our players are aware of the standards I set for our program and that failure to meet my expectations will result in consequences,” Kelly said. “Justin and Cierre violated our team rules so I’ve suspended them for the first two games of the season.”

The two players will miss the opener against Navy and the week two match-up against in-state rival Purdue. For the Irish the offense takes a legitimate hit with the loss of a 1,000-yard rusher in Wood. Wood led the Irish ground game with 1,102 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.1 yards per rush. Utupo played mostly on special teams last season but hurts the depth on the defensive line early on.

The Irish offense will now have to look to senior Theo Riddick and sophomore George Atkinson III to help keep the running game going and hope that will be enough to take some of the pressure off recently named starting quarterback Everett Golson, a first-time starting quarterback. This is hardly the ideal situation for Kelly and Notre Dame, who are continuing to look for a way to work the Fighting Irish back to a national contender and restore the national pride in the football program.

Against rivals like Navy and Purdue Notre Dame should still have an upper hand, but these are also two programs that should not be overlooked by anyone. Navy with their triple-spread offense has shown they are not intimidated by Notre Dame and capable of hanging with and beating the Fighting Irish in recent years. Purdue is a program with an offense that can take some people by surprise and could be a wild card in the Big Ten this season. An early season victory against a weakened Irish squad could be the momentum swing needed for the Boilermakers to turn some heads around the college football map.

Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for Exmainer.com, host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast and managing editor of Nittany Lions Den. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter and Facebook.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pacquiao to have surgery to repair 'significant' shoulder tear

Chris Paul ruled out for Game 1 against Rockets

Stephen Curry thanks father in touching MVP speech

Lawrence Taylor's son pleads guilty to statutory rape

49ers FB Bruce Miller charged with vandalism

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Winston snubbed ESPN out of draft interview

Report: Some Colts players unhappy with first-round pick

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff: Focus is on Julio Jones contract

Irvin on Seahawks not picking up option: ‘F— that option’

Brandon Prust rips referee, accuses him of on-ice trash talk

LeBron James ditched headband to look more like teammates

Five overhyped NFL Draft storylines that didn't play out

WATCH: Chris Johnson wants to play for the Cowboys

WATCH: Chewbacca throws out 1st pitch at Red Sox game

WATCH: Kyrie Irving carves up Bulls' defense for layup

WATCH: Metallica goes Jimi Hendrix for national anthem

Brandon McCarthy shares disturbing info about himself

Ole Miss fan got pregnant because of upset over Alabama

Willie Cauley-Stein legally changes middle name to 'Trill'

Marcus Mariota welcomed to Tennessee with billboard

Five takeaways from the first round of the NBA playoffs

NFL has a Los Angeles Rams webpage

10 undrafted free agents who could become NFL stars

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Cauley-Stein changes middle name to 'Trill'

NFL has Los Angeles Rams webpage

10 undrafted free agents to watch

Report: Winston snubbed ESPN

Life without Love: The new-look Cavs

Drafted player changes Twitter name to ‘Pick 245′

Floyd Mayweather Punch Out mock video game is great

Report: Steph Curry to be NBA MVP

Kelly: Tebow here to compete for job

Tony Allen booed for being rude?

Lindsey Vonn, Tiger Woods break up

Pacquiao fought with injured shoulder?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.