Tim O'Malley -- PublisherGenerally when everyone is taking one side, it's prudent to take the other (Vegas has big buildings, we're all suckers, etc.) For a recent example, consider how many Irish fans one week ago today felt that Michigan State would simply be too strong up front -- the opposite proved true.
I've picked the Wolverines two years running in this annual contest and should have been wrong both times. This time I can't go against the Irish, I just don't think it will be the care-free parade down the newly named Fighting Irish Avenue (formerly Michigan Street, in downtown South Bend) most fans foresee.
Look for Notre Dame to control both lines of scrimmage, rendering Michigan's inherent advantage, the supernatural Denard Robinson, less relevant than in season's past. Speaking of "relevance" I'd say 4-0 qualifies.
Notre Dame 27 Michigan 20 (Full game preview column forthcoming)
Brian Dohn -- Recruiting ReporterIf not for a big meltdown late in last year's game, Notre Dame could have used a big win at Michigan to build momentum. Instead, it worked the other way. Coming of a big effort at Michigan State, the Irish will use that momentum.
Notre Dame 20, Michigan 17
Dave Berk -- Recruiting AnalystDenard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines have found a way to beat the Irish the last three games in the final 30-seconds. 2012 has a different feel as the Irish are coming off a convincing win over Michigan State. Robinson will post some numbers, but an emotional Manti Te'o and the Irish will lei a 28-17 loss on Brady Hoke's squad.
BNolan -- ModeratorIn brief, ND owes UM a throttling big time. Denard, blah - blah - blah... we finally have the defenders up front to make his life miserable, and should.
Hurt him early and he's out of the game, mentally and very likely physically. The UM defense is porous, our line should maul them, our RB's should slash them. At home, at night, ND gets some much needed payback.
ND 31, UM 17
GaviND -- Moderator12 points.
Over the last three editions of the Notre Dame vs. Michigan football series, the Fighting Irish have lost three times by a total of 12 points.
By four in '09. By four in '10. By four in '11.
The heartache experienced by Notre Dame football fans over the last three years -- three years which saw their team lose in the last minute all three times -- has done nothing to lessen the hatred they feel for their neighbor to the north. If anything, it has only made the hate grow stronger.
Riding high off of their road win over Michigan State several days ago, the Irish return home ready to close their chapter of futility with UM as they are forced to deal with the man who has given them nightmares the last two years: Denard Robinson.
#16 has been a one man highlight reel in his two starts against the Irish, torching them on the ground two years ago and through the air late in last year's game.
The game plan is simple: keep Robinson in the pocket. Do that and force him to throw the ball -- as he was force to do against Alabama -- and the Irish win...going away!
Notre Dame has been outstanding against the run this year and the combination of Fitz Touissaint and the Michigan offensive line is not the best test the Irish front seven has faced this year. Expect Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix and company to limit Touissaint's production and keep Robinson at bey.
Offensively, there are two keys that should dictate the outcome:
1. Dominate the line: If the offensive line's level of play and effort reaches what it was last week, the Irish should be able to run the ball consistently. If they play even slightly better than they did last week, it could mean 250 yards on the ground for the good guys.
2. Everett Golson needs to play within himself -- A conservative, ground and pound game plan should pay dividends for the Irish so Everett Golson's job becomes to protect the football and pick his spots wisely. Take care of the football, Everett and we'll be okay!
With Michigan losing their best cornerback Blake Countess for the season, there will ample opportunity for the Irish to strike trough the air and given the squads newfound willingness to stretch the field with Chris Brown, could this be the week we finally hit a home run?
That much I am unsure of, but what I am sure of is that good things are happening to this football team...and that trend will continue this weekend.
ND 33 UM 17
Morrissey79 -- ModeratorIrish Eyes are smiling. That's one thing that is very evident across ND message boards, a result of Notre Dames dominating performance last weekend against the Spartans.
The Irish are 3-0 for the first time since 2002 and they finally have some positive momentum early in the season, the first time in Kelly's tenure since starting at ND.
Michigan comes to town and you can sense the anticipation. Another night game, Kelly and Co will look to put forth a much better performance than they did last year against USC in a similar setting.
One thing is for sure, and ND fans can't take Michigan for granted. Brady Hoke is a good coach, and Denard Robinson is one of the most electric players in college football.
ND has lost the last 3 years in the last couple minutes of the game when facing Michigan. Its been in heartbreaking fashion.
Manti Teo won't go 0-4 against Michigan in his career.
Coach Diaco won't let Robinson throw for 200+ and run for 30+ in the 4th qtr this year.
ND's offense won't turn the ball over 5 times.
ND has been waiting for this game for quite some time. The staff is ready, the players are ready, and the fans are ready.
ND takes the next step in this long journey back to the top.
ND-31 Michigan 17
SeattleNDFan -- ModeratorLooking at line play as a barometer for success, the outlook for Notre Dame appears to be headed upwards while that of Michigan's is just the opposite. Michigan was unable to run at will on either Air Force or UMass and both Air Force and UMass were able to run effectively on Michigan. That means Michigan has far more in common with the 2006 Charlie Weis ND team than is probably ideal for them, and further reinforces my impression that Brady Hoke will eventually turn out to be Charlie Weis 3.0 (Charlie Weis 2.0 is currently coaching at USC).
While Hoke, like Weis, is trying to win without being able to either stop the run or run the ball, Notre Dame has at times struggled to run it, but has consistently stopped opponents from moving the ball on the ground and on top of that has developed what appears to be a real and consistent pass rush which does not depend on blitzing to create pressure. Notre Dame has yet to give up a TD on the ground in 2012 and I see that trend continuing against Michigan, even with spectacular playmaker Denard Robinson on the field. Turnovers could make all of this analysis for naught, as could the surpassing excellence of Denard Robinson's playmaking ability, but if all else breaks even, this game should not be close, if only due to what should be a dramatic disparity in line play on both sides of the ball in Notre Dame's favor.
ND should be able to run the ball to force Michigan to load the box, and Golson has the arm and the accuracy to make them pay when they do. With Michigan's linebackers the weakest link on their defense, look for Tyler Eifert, fresh off a very team-first assignment to block for the running game and protect for the passing game against a very good Spartan defense to come back on the receiving end with a vengeance. Also look for Golson to connect with Chris Brown on the deep ball they have been just missing on to date.
Going the other way, look for Notre Dame to copy the Alabama playbook, as they have the front seven to do it, forcing Denard to give the ball up on read option to Fitzgerald Toussaint rather than keep it and looking to contain him and force him to make precision passes under pressure from the front three while the linebackers wait and fill the gaps. ND's young secondary will likely give up two scores using this strategy, but will also turn Denard over as many times or more. Robinson has thrown an interception in every game this season and a pick six in two of the three, I think that will become three of four on Saturday.
If Denard Robinson stays healthy throughout the game: Notre Dame 27 Michigan 14
If Denard misses more than a half the game: Notre Dame 31 Michigan 0
KurzND -- ModeratorThis week, it seems all I have read is "Is ND back?" And the talking heads going back in forth debating it. For now the answer to me is a definite no. Michigan has won the past 3 meetings each by 4 points. The have been questionable calls, unforced turnovers, inexplicable assignments missed. Based on the attitude this team has shown me, there will be no 4th quarter meltdown to give me a heart attack at the age of 21.
Michigan's offense is still the lightning in a bottle that is Denard Robinson. To stop him, ND's D-Line NEEDS to pressure on him and hit him. ND needs to be able to get pressure with only 3-5 guys tops. ND's secondary has shown improvement every game this year but is still a little green and it helps that Michigan doesn't seem to have a big time wide receiver, although the former QB Devin Gardner certainly has the potential. I also am interested to see the DBs go an entire game without any help from veteran DB Slaughter. Notre Dame shut down Denard and the Michigan offense last year for 3 quarters and there is no reason why the improved ND front 7 can't do even better than last year. ND needs to stop Denard from running first and tackle well.
As for ND on offense, Cierre Wood looks ready to go as he did very well in the 4th quarter versus a much better Michigan State defense. From last year, Michigan lost their best D-Line players in Van Bergen and Mike Martin. ND's O-Line should not have a lot of trouble allowing ND to gain yards easily on the ground, as even UMass rushed for 112 yards. Look for Eifert to make some big plays as Michigan's best corner Countess is done for the season. With T.J., Toma, and a hopefully healthy Daniels, ND has more than enough offense to score on Michigan.
This year's ND team has a different attitude and has revenge on their mind. Time to get this monkey off their backs.
Notre Dame 27 Michigan 17
Special Guest Prognosticator -- Dosch44I'm not totally convinced that the performance last week will directly translate to this week. Last week it was all about getting in the back field and this week will be all about the defensive line and linebackers controlling their lanes and keeping containment.
I see a little Brett Favre in Denard in that he will throw at least 3 passes right to the defense and I think that the defense will finally take advantage of a turnover and convert it into 6 points.
I expect ND's offense to remain conservative as the easiest way for ND to lose this game will be turning the ball over. I don't think Michigan's defense is as solid as the Spartans' or Boilermakers' so I fully expect ND to be able to move the ball on the ground particularly in the second half. Hopefully we will see some of the zone read that has been scarce this year because Michigan has proven to not be consistently disciplined (Air Force) in option situations.
Man for man, ND should win most of the matchups, especially along the lines of scrimmage. I have no doubt that ND will be able to control UM's rushing attack so it will be on the young secondary to makes plays both in the passing game and through open field tackles. I have faith in Brian Kelly's ability to put together a superior game plan and this coaching staff has proven to not make the same mistake twice. There is no way that Michigan gets enough breaks to sneak out another game.
ND 31 UM 17