Staff Predictions: Michigan vs. Notre Dame
Observer Staff | Thursday, September 5, 2013
This is a rivalry game, there shouldn’t be any doubt about it. To some of the coaches, maybe not (or maybe it’s just pure mind games), but to anyone who has come through Notre Dame or Michigan in the last 20 years there has hardly been a game that is as anticipated as this one.
There is no more Denard to terrorize Te’o. There is no more Te’o to terrorize Denard.
No more stars. Now it just comes down to fundamentals, strategy and who hates the other more. It’s going to be a tough defensive struggles and a battle between the defensive minds of defensive coordinators Bob Diaco and Greg Mattison.
It’s the last time at the Big House for a while, so I’m expecting a big finish.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Michigan 23
Assistant Managing Editor
Is this game going to be an offensive explosion? Is it going to be a defensive struggle? I have no idea, and neither do you.
Devin Gardner is a relative unknown as it relates to Notre Dame fans and the Irish faithful are hopeful he is not a Denard Robinson clone. The good news is that Gardner is not at all like Robinson. The bad news is that he is a better passer than Robinson could have ever dreamed of.
The Irish defense was not at their best last week despite allowing just a single touchdown to a dismal Temple offense. They need to be better against the Wolverines and I think they will be.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, Michigan 17
This isn’t 2012. And this isn’t 2011. Last year was a defensive struggle, and 2011 was a … well, I think most Notre Dame students remember that.
The 2013 rendition of the “rivalry” will be somewhere in between. Neither team will score like 2011 and Michigan won’t throw another five interceptions this year.
But the game will again be close. At this point, the offenses are still a toss-up. The Irish offense – though it struggled to convert yards into points against Temple – still racked up 543 yards against the Owls, while Michigan put 59 points and 463 yards on the board against Central Michigan.
On defense, Notre Dame brings back eight starters to Michigan’s five, and Bob Diaco will dial up the right calls to do enough to thwart Devin Gardner.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 21, Michigan 20
Associate Sports Editor
Both teams impressed against vastly inferior competition in week one, but now it is time to see how good the respective teams actually are. Based on what the Irish showed last week, the defense could struggle mightily against senior quarterback Devin Gardner should he manage to escape the pressure in the pocket and improvise with his feet.
However, this is still (at least in part) the Irish defense that kept opponents out of the end zone as if the glory of Mary depended on it last year and last week held Temple to only six points even in a vastly imperfect performance. Touchdowns will be hard to come by for both teams, but Rees and TJ Jones will come up with some big plays while the recently beleaguered Irish kicking game steps up.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 20, Michigan 16
Darn right Notre Dame-Michigan is a rivalry, and the hatred between the schools owes as much to the years they haven’t played each other as to the years they have. This is likely the last time these schools will play in the Big House this decade, and that urgency will show in a tight game Saturday.
The Irish defense will need to step up to contain Devin Gardner, and Tommy Rees will need to continue to take care of the football to keep the Irish in it.
It won’t be pretty. Michigan Stadium will be throbbing. There’ll be turnovers, mistakes and heart attacks. This one could go either way, but the night ends with the visitors taking the rivalry’s bragging rights back to South Bend.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 29, Michigan 26 (OT)