Tim O'Malley – Managing EditorHead or heart? Or more appropriate: Pass or Run?
For the better part of six months I've felt one of Notre Dame's two losses would be in Ann Arbor. Last week's loss to South Florida changed the game's dynamic, but the prediction (linked above) isn't a commentary on Notre Dame's seasons or its string of expectations unmet, I just believe Notre Dame could fall into the same trap that's plagued the program for the better part of eight years:
They'll forget where their bread is buttered. Click and decide for yourself.
Brian Dohn – Irisheyes.com reacruiting reporter/Northeast Recruiting AnalystI think Notre Dame wins big in a huge bounce-back effort under the lights. The USF game turned on the opening drive when the Irish turned the ball over in the red zone on their first drive. Tommy Rees has experience, and taking him on the road will be a big benefit when it comes to playing in Michigan Stadium.
Notre Dame has to slow Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, the most dynamic player east of Waco, Texas. First-year Michigan coach Brady Hoke is trying to keep Robinson in the pocket more, which could take away from his natural talents.
Notre Dame 27 Michigan 17
Dave Berk – Recruiting AnalystThe Irish head to Michigan still hurting from the loss to South Florida. The stage is set for Brady Hoke and the Wolverines to pour more salt to the Irish wounds by beating them in prime-time and in the first night game in Michigan Stadium history.
However, Brian Kelly will have his team ready to battle with Tommy Rees at quarterback. While all eyes will be on the combo of Rees and Michael Floyd, look for another member of the Irish to come up big as Notre Dame wins its first game of the season 28-20.
Christian Zavisca – Staff WriterWill Brady Hoke ever stop referring to Michigan's rival as "Ohio," rather than "Ohio State"? These are the questions one ponders during Notre Dame-Michigan week.
More importantly, what are we to think of the two teams after last week?
Notre Dame is talented enough to win if it can avoid drowning in mistakes, as it did in a loss to South Florida last week.
Michigan? The Wolverines didn't even get three quarters in on Saturday. Their weather-shortened win over Western Michigan doesn't give us a whole lot to go on.
I am predicting an Irish win, because even though Notre Dame failed to tackle Denard Robinson at all last year, the Fighting Irish should have won that game, and should win the game this year. Michigan is too suspect on defense and too much in transition. And Notre Dame is too talented to go 0-2…I think.
Notre Dame 27 Michigan 24
Morrissey79 (Moderator)Everything that could've gone wrong did go wrong for the Irish last weekend. Turnovers, penalties, mental errors, unfortunate events, the weather…everything.
This week, they're headed to a very tough environment for an enormous rivalry game.
I'm a huge Tommy Rees fan, and think Coach Kelly made the right move in changing quarterbacks. I expect a balanced offense to move the ball on Michigan, and the defense to bend, but not break, giving up some big gains to Denard Robinson, but overall keeping them out of the end zone.
Irish get back on track, winning 27-17
SeattleND (Moderator)Notre Dame put up over 500 yards of offense against a South Florida defense which overall is considerably stronger and faster than Michigan's (this despite facing the fearsome drop 3 rush 8 scheme which befuddled them in 2010), but what quality the Wolverine defense does have is up front, especially in Mike Martin and Craig Roh. The back end is their Achilles heel, though, and Michael Floyd will not be seeing anyone currently playing in the Michigan secondary on Sundays.
Thus the key to the Notre Dame Michigan clash is in the matchup between the ND offensive line and the Michigan defensive front. If ND can run the ball on Michigan and give the ND QB time to unleash Floyd (and equally importantly finish drives once in the red zone), then the Wolverine offense (and their quarterback) are not well suited to coming from behind. Michigan was unable to generate much pass rush from their down linemen against Western, so they will resort to blitzing in obvious passing situations, which creates big opportunities to take advantage of, as we know from the Great Tenuta Experiment.
Meanwhile, Michigan will be able to move the ball on ND's defense if only because ND will have to make concessions to Denard Robinson's speed, one of which is not playing press coverage so that the CB's can see Robinson the entire play and be able to help contain. This is what they did against Robinson last season and also what they did against BJ Daniels, and it will result in the same gimme 5-7 yard quick passes they gave up to him, however, this should also limit the big plays and that is the key to stopping Robinson and Michigan. If ND gives up no play longer than 18 yards all night, as they did against USF, the Irish should be just fine.
In the end, enough home field "breaks" will go the Wolverines' way to keep this closer than it probably should be, and ND fans will once again walk away muttering that we had a much bigger talent gap than the score showed... but this time the Irish pull it out.
ND 27 Michigan 21
KurzND (Moderator)Michigan and Notre Dame. Again. Of all of ND's recent troubles the one to me that has hurt the most is Michigan. The past two years losing at the end to what I have felt were inferior teams pains me. After last week, I hate to say it, but I feel that this is a must win for the Irish, being back on GameDay, and need some positive results on the field.
I look for ND to show a balanced attack on offense with Floyd and Wood to have great games as well as Riddick to show last week was not the real him. On defense, must be cautious because Denard is a home run threat. The plan isn't for him to run as often as last year, but Saturday, Michigan may need him to do just that. The game's key match ups are Michigan center David Molk vs. ND nose guards Sean Cwynar and Louis Nix, and DT Mike Martin vs. Irish center Braxston Cave. Both UM stars are very talented and the keys to the running game for Michigan and in turn stopping ND's rush attack.
In the end, the Irish shake off what happened last week and show (hopefully) their true colors. Notre Dame 34 Michigan 24
GaviND (Moderator)It's game two of season and already, the phrase, "must win game," is being bandied about. Sure, you always want to beat Michigan; aside from U$C, no team on Notre Dame's annual slate of games is more hated...but this game is bigger than usual.
After shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly last Saturday, the Irish MUST win this game to again build credibility and keep their BCS Bowl hopes alive. Given all that went wrong last week, one can go one of two ways; you can assume we're cursed and therefore bound to lose or, you can be like me and assume last week's mistake riddled game will one day be looked at as an aberration.
Notre Dame is the more talented team and they have more firepower on both sides of the ball, but in order to win, they must do three things:
- Contain Denard – I don't think you can stop him, but the Irish front seven must find a way to keep him in the pocket. There cannot be a repeat of last year.
- The O-Line must play well – The Notre Dame offensive line must keep the Michigan defensive line from getting pressure on Tommy Rees. If the big uglies do their job, it will force Michigan to blitz far more often than they'd like and as a result Rees should be in position to challenge a suspect Michigan defensive backfield.
- Take care of the ball!! – I don't care what sport you're playing, taking care of the ball is generally rule número uno. If the Irish do not give the ball away as they did five times a week ago, Michigan is in for a long night.
At the end of the day, a HARD week of practice gets the Irish back on track.
ND 34 UM 17
Weisass (Moderator)The 2011 Irish football season didn't start out the way we were all expecting. During the opening drive I was thinking "National Championship," then the fumble returned for a USF touchdown was a huge let down to a perfect drive, and reality set in. But the defense stepped up when it had to and held a good USF team to just one TD and three field goals. I still have a lot of faith in this Irish team as all of their errors were correctable.
Tommy Rees came into the game and took it on his shoulders, relieving Dayne Crist. Look for this team to be fired up and really put it to Michigan. If the Irish D can contain Denard Robinson and get the ball rolling, look for a win over the Wolverines. ND 24 Michigan 13
GoldRushND (Guest Prognosticator)Michigan looked good in a rain-shortened affair against Western Michigan last Saturday, but WMU is no South Florida. Notre Dame's defense is verifiably much better than the Broncos defense Michigan rang up 34 points against. Backed against a wall, UND's defense kept the South Florida game from becoming the laugher it should have been considering our ratio of mistakes.
Notre Dame cannot possibly play a worse game than they played at South Bend in Week 1! It simply is not mathematically possible to play a worse game than that, nor to play two consecutive games that poorly! (At least this is what I tell myself while I drink hard whiskey straight from the bottle I keep in my cupboard.) My nerves and my confidence are rattled from last week, but not broken.
I believe Notre Dame comes to Ann Arbor extremely pissed off and ready to crack skulls! I believe the defense will zero in on Denard Robinson and hold him to less than half the output he put up against us a year ago. I believe Notre Dame, at the very least, will halve the turnovers and mistakes on offense that they displayed against the Bulls.
At the same time I think we can force a few mistakes ourselves. Notre Dame is due for a bounce-back game and Michigan is in the crosshairs! My prediction, while not very confident at the moment due to rattled nerves, is solid. ND 24 UM-17