The Irish will be playing in a must-win game this weekend against Michigan. Unfortunately, I cannot imagine a way Notre Dame can win this game unless they create a number of turnovers.
Yes, Michigan struggled running the football and could be starting a freshman quarterback, however, that freshman quarterback looked more effective than Brady Quinn did last week, and Michigan has always been able to run the football.
The Michigan defense is a humongous hurdle the Irish would have to overcome to win this football game. I think this Michigan defense could be one of the best Michigan defensive units I've ever seen. I simply cannot find many flaws in this Wolverine defense. They have talent and experience, and a few playmakers as well.
Maybe Irish offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick has found some holes, but I certainly couldn't. Even if he has, can he exploit them?
I just cannot see this Irish offense driving 80 yards for a touchdown against this Wolverine defense.
Considering how the Irish have struggled scoring in the first quarter in many of their games under Willingham, this Irish team could find themselves behind early in the game with the difficult task of playing catch-up against a very good Michigan defense.
I think it's absolutely vital that the Irish have success on their first series on offense. They don't need to score, but they must put together a drive to build some confidence. If they go three-and-out on their first series, I think Irish fans are in for a very long day on Saturday.
Saying that, I believe you'll see Irish offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick dust off the playbook and open it to some pages that haven't seen the light of day in a while. I think you'll see a lot of plays you haven't seen in quite some time from the Irish offense.
On defense, the big question will be, do you blitz and come after freshman quarterback Chad Henne? Normally, any defensive coordinator would be licking their chops to face a freshman quarterback playing in his first road game--oh, and by the way, against the rival team.
But, with Notre Dame's lack of experience in the defensive backfield, and the vastly talented Michigan receiving corps, Irish defensive coordinator Kent Baer might think twice.
It all boils down to this. Michigan will be able to move the ball on Notre Dame's defense, but they won't score a lot. I don't believe Notre Dame can move the ball consistently on Michigan's defense.
The only chance I think the Irish will have is if they create turnovers on defense. If they can give the Irish offense a short field, they could stay in this game and could even win.
I don't believe this game will be as ugly as some are predicting. I believe Notre Dame will play much better on Saturday, but I also don't think they have the horses to stay with Michigan on either side of the ball.
Michigan pulls away in a closer game than most think.
Michigan : 28 Notre Dame: 10