Anna Hickey -- Recruiting AnalystAn array of questions to dial in on in this match-up: Can Notre Dame's offensive line give Golson time to go through his progressions? Do Brian VanGorder's multitude of blitzes and third-down packages lead to poor decision-making from Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner? Is one week enough time to amend the communication issues in the secondary? Can Notre Dame's wide receivers effectively release from the jams presented at the line by Michigan's cornerbacks?
In the end, this game comes down to the tried and true battle of the trenches, especially in the second half when hands are on hips. If Notre Dame wins (didn't say dominate) at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, the Irish come out on top.
Brian Kelly beats Brady Hoke in play-calling and preparation in this one.
Notre Dame 32 Michigan 24
GaviND -- Moderator48-17. The good guys won last week. Convincingly.
It was everything that a Notre Dame football fan could have hoped for. Senior quarterback Everett Golson was back slinging the rock, shiny new toy Greg Bryant looked deserving of the year-and-a-half of hype and the defense, save for a few lapses, looked nothing like the green group most anticipated.
It was nice...but it's over now.
Now, things get real.
Tomorrow evening Michigan rolls into town fresh off of a 52-14 curb-stomping of their own. With them they bring a legitimate Division 1 football roster and the type of confidence that comes with winning four out of the series' last five games.
Rather than pretend I learned much about either team by watching what amounted to scrimmages for both, I'll try to stick to what I (am pretty sure I) know:
1. Notre Dame's offense is GOOD. They will put up points.
2. Michigan has a very inexperienced offensive line, BUT they are also talented at the skill positions and have a quarterback that can take over a game -- we know from experience.
3. The Notre Dame defense is very talented, but they're also inexperienced. While 17 points to Rice represents a solid showing, 376 total yards is a little alarming.
I expect the Irish to take care of the football and, for a second week in a row, play in a disciplined fashion.
A talented quarterback like Devin Gardner is going to make his share of plays -- especially against a secondary that broke down several times this past weekend -- but I expect Brian VanGorder and the defense to pick their spots and cause enough confusion to create some key turnovers.
Dramatic, as always, this time the Irish will walk away victorious. ND 38 UM 27
BNolan -- ModeratorThere was a time, years ago (pre Willingham, Weis, kinda Kelly...) when I felt pretty good about my 'gut' feelings on upcoming games. I was right most of the time.
These last three regimes have kicked my guts in the (rhymes)...
Nonetheless, I think ND wins this game without the typical drama of many recent contests. Not without moments that will have me wanting to throw my beer at the television, but I think the D plays good enough, and the O plays better than good enough.
Everyone can taunt me if my gut feeling once again pukes this one up.
Much better competition than Rice, obviously, but if the offensive line can give Golson chances, he should have a fun day. The running backs need to balance the passing game.
As always, we have to win the turnover battle.
The defense... I think will be tested, but... hopefully some big hits on Gardner will get onto his body and into his head.
Since the long dormant ST seems to be awakening, a big return would sure be nice. ND 31 UM 20
SeattleNDFan -- ModeratorHard to tell much from opening victories by Notre Dame over Rice and Michigan over Appalachian State, but in this last game of the series for the immediate future I see the Coach Brady Hoke road game curse continuing and Notre Dame closing out this chapter in the series with a solid win at home.
Michigan's issues with containing mobile quarterbacks will lead to a big day by Everett Golson and the new Notre Dame defense will force Devin Gardner into at least two turnovers. Michigan will score on one or two secondary breakdowns and will move the ball between the 20's but slow to a crawl in the red zone while ND will score as often from outside the red zone as from within.
Expect the Irish to surpass last year's punt return season totals (they're 26 yards away after just one game this fall) before the end of the first half.
Notre Dame 38 Michigan 13
Amruther24 -- ModeratorThe Michigan game has become the most difficult game on the Irish schedule to predict over the last several years. A strong argument can be made that Notre Dame has been the better team two of the last three meetings, and the one year it was arguable, ND was coming off of a national title appearance. However, the Irish were 1-2 in those match ups and needed Denard Robinson to beat himself in 2012 to pull out a win.
Both teams looked good last week against inferior competition, though that's less surprising for UM than it was for Brian Kelly era Notre Dame. Last week's Rice game did nothing to dissuade me from my belief that ND will have an elite offensive unit at some point this season. The only thing that changed for me is that it may happen sooner than later.
I'll probably regret this, but this series is due for a blowout win and my gut tells me that ND will be doing the blowing out in the final game before a hiatus in the series. ND 38 UM 24 ?
Morrissey79 -- ModeratorND -- Michigan. One final time. At night, in Notre Dame stadium.
This game could make or break the Irish season. Brian Kelly hasn't had much luck against the Wolverines, but you have to think this one is the most important.
Both teams dominated inferior opponents last week, so not sure what we could read using that.
Michigan's Gardner had an exceptional game against ND last year, but can he repeat?
Everybody seems to be focused on Funchess and what type of threat he poses against ND -- Michigan certainly moves him around the field, but i think this is in ND's favor. This will enable ND to put a corner on him at times, most likely Cole Luke or Cody Riggs, two guys that could handle him probably better than say a safety or nickel or linebacker. I also think you'll see Brian Van Gorder use a little more creativity against Michigan to generate some pass rush, but make no mistake about it, Michigan is going to put up points Saturday night.
I just happen to think ND's offense will put up more. Last week was only the start for this offense. Look for ND to take advantage of their excellent running back trio, look for Greg Bryan to continue to show how truly electric he is, I expect one bomb to Will Fuller or Chris Brown, and I think Ben Koyack will be used even more effective on some key third-down conversions. I also think you'll see ND's O-Line play better as coach Harry Hiestand and Co. know last week was far too inconsistent.
Kyle Brindza hits a couple field goals, Golson has another great day (specifically in the red zone), and ND wins the turnover battle. ND 34 Michigan 27
KurzND -- ModeratorBoth teams looked great in Week 1 vs lesser opponents but we can't take much from those games.
Michigan has a veteran D and a stud on offense in Devin Funchess. Recently, it hasn't mattered if Michigan puts the water boy in at QB against Notre Dame -- they always have a big day. Gardner presents a huge issue for VanGorder and his defense. Kelly has a 1-3 record vs Michigan and it is important for ND to continue their hot start and end the series with a win.
If ND wins, it is because Everett Golson carries the team and makes plays, doesn't turn it over, and runs for first downs. On defense, they cannot let Gardner get comfortable. Michigan and Funchess will get theirs, but Gardner will make some mistakes and Michigan's OLine, while improved, will show cracks against better teams and elite players like Smith and Day.
Hoke continues to search for a quality road win (his one quality road win over three seasons at the helm is a 7-6 victory over Illinois in 2011), Golson carries the Irish and Brindza kicks a game winner. Notre Dame 37 Michigan 35