Michigan Staff Predictions
Observer Sports Writers | Thursday, September 8, 2011
On the one hand, the Irish are the superior team. Notre Dame has more talent and is vastly improved from a year ago (especially on the defensive side of the ball), while the Wolverines are under a first-year coach and aren’t a huge threat beyond Denard Robinson.
On the other hand, there is no evidence the Irish can avoid repeating last week, when they made mental mistake after mental mistake. They were flat-out sloppy. Those mistakes will be even costlier in a raucous night game. Simply put, the Irish must play mistake-free football to win this game, and after last week, that’s hard to see happening.
Still, the Irish can win this game. They should win this game. But I’m only barely confident they will.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Michigan 28
Oh, I believe in yesterday. Er, maybe six years ago.
Six years ago I nearly broke my ankle one Friday evening on a trampoline. I distinctly remember the next afternoon, running as fast as my crutches would carry me, to tell my father Notre Dame was about to upset third-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Two weeks ago I nearly broke my ankle being an idiot. Tomorrow, I am heading to Ann Arbor hoping for a repeat of the past. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee this ending the same way as it did when I was in high school. For one thing, the Irish are favored. Why? I’m not sure.
A week ago, all of Notre Dame’s troubles seemed so far away. Now, it looks as though they’re here to stay.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan 34, Notre Dame 24
Turnovers inside the five-yard-line. Fumbled punts. Dropped passes. Missed field goals.
Unacceptable defensive pentalties after the whistle. It was for all of these reasons that Notre Dame lost to South Florida. It was the mistakes that defined the game.
508 yards in total offense. 254 yards given up by the Irish defense. A 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver. It was for all of these reasons that Notre Dame dominated South Florida in virtually every aspect of the game.
The question now becomes, which is more characteristic of this Irish squad? The mistakes or the strenghts?
Notre Dame was the better team on the field against South Florida, and they will be the better team on the field against Michigan. Now they just need to execute.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Michigan 27
Associate Sports Editor
It’s safe to say nobody saw last week’s performance coming. Five turnovers — three inside the 5-yard line — doomed the Irish in the opener.
Under past coaching regimes, Notre Dame would follow up a performance like Saturday’s with another mediocre effort, but it won’t happen with this coach or this team.
Tommy Rees will play with poise, manage the game and make some key throws when needed — and that is all the team will need him to do. Cierre Wood will approach 200 rushing yards against an improving defense that lacks speed and talent and Theo Riddick will bounce back to help the Irish top the Wolverines in Ann Arbor for the first time since 2005.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Michigan 21
Assistant Managing Editor
Following last year’s defeat to the Wolverines, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson emerged as a leading contender for the Heisman trophy, former head coach Rich Rodriguez earned the trust of boosters for one more week and nobody really knew who Tommy Rees was. A year later, Robinson remains one of the top athletes in college football, Rodriguez is out of coaching, and Rees is Notre Dame’s starting quarterback.
Amidst the enormous buildup and throwback jerseys, the first night game at the Big House should be a spectacle for all but those on the field. Notre Dame is motivated to pick up its first win of the season.
If the Irish can contain an explosive quarterback for the second consecutive week and Rees brings his usual precision and efficiency, Notre Dame earns a victory under the lights.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 35, Michigan 17