The ranking next to Notre Dame’s name won’t last long if they can’t pull off a win under the lights at the “Big House” this weekend. And with the nightmare of last week’s mistake-filled home loss to South Florida behind them, the Irish will need to regroup to face a tough Michigan team that has beaten them in their last two meetings with less than 30 seconds or less remaining.
Fighting Irish (0-1) at Wolverines (1-0)
Venue/Stadium: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Time/Date: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, September 10, 2011
NFL Odds From: 5 Dimes
Spread (ATS): Notre Dame -3.5 -110
Over/Under: 55 -110
Michigan leads the all time series (22-15-1), and after beating their rival from South Bend in 2009, 38-34, on a Tate Forcier 5-yard pass to Greg Matthews with 11 seconds left in the game. The Wolverines stunned the Irish again in last year’s meeting when Denrad Robinson powered into the end zone from 2-yards out with 27 seconds left on the clock, giving Michigan a 28-24 win.
Robinson will enter Saturday’s contest on the heels of a rather pedestrian start to the season, accounting for just 144 total yards and just 46 on the ground in Michigan’s 34-10 romp over Western Michigan in Week 1.
However, the Wolverines piled up 190 yards on just 26 carries to prove that coach Brady Hoke’s promise of an improved running game was more than just a verbal commitment. Nevertheless, it will take some time for Robinson to adjust to Michigan’s new offensive system that allows for much less freedom for the quarterback to run the football.
It won’t get any easier for Robinson either, as he will have to improve as he faces a Notre Dame defense, although they didn’t win on Saturday, was the lone bright spot in Saturday’s loss to South Florida.
The Golden Domers held USF to just 254 total yards and field goals in the first half, and allowed only one touchdown in the second while consistently getting the ball back for the offense to their job.
But the offense didn’t, and you can’t help but feel an Irish defense that gave up just 16 points, deserved a better fate.
Now they will face a similar athlete to South Florida’s B.J. Daniels in Robinson. If that indicates how the day will go, I’d say Notre Dame’s defense will be able to control, for the most part , the Wolverines new offense.
Meanwhile, the Irish’s offense, who committed five turnovers, three in the red zone and two on their half of the 50-yard line, against South Florida in their home opener. Did however, manage to rack up had over 500 yards of total offense.
I expect them to move the ball against a Michigan defense that surrendered nearly 300 yards to Western Michigan including a secondary that allowed the Broncos Jordan White to catch 12 balls for 120 yards.
That poor secondary performance should bode well for Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees who passed for 296 yards and two TDs in the loss to USF.
Matt’s Prediction: Notre Dame 28, Michigan 24 - The “Big House” will be rocking and it will make for a difficult and frenzied environment. It is critical that the Irish start off strong. Expectations are still high for Rees who will likely face more pressure this week than he has yet to face in South Bend. But he will need to keep the interceptions down while the entire offense needs to take better care of the football. Although the Irish appear more talented than Michigan, I think they win this game because they have no choice, as a loss puts them at 0-2 and could basically end their season.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.