Predictions: Michigan vs. Notre Dame
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, September 4, 2014
Senior Sports Writer
Both teams rolled in their season openers. Got it.
But what do we glean from the respective thumpings?
For Michigan, Devin Funchess is a monster matchup nightmare on the perimeter, but the interior of the Wolverines’ defensive front struggled at times. For Notre Dame, Everett Golson looked dominant. The secondary, in particular the safeties, wavered with communication and allowed four explosive plays.
So what gives Saturday? Well, if we’ve learned anything from this rivalry, it’s that the rivalry game will be close down the stretch.
But in the end, Notre Dame’s offense looks to have the upper hand — thanks in part to its line — and a raucous home crowd will do enough to aid the youthful Irish defense.
FINAL SCORE : Notre Dame 35, Michigan 28
Michigan and Notre Dame both easily dispatched non-power conference opponents last weekend. Now, it’s time for their last meeting in the foreseeable future, a game that will have even more meaning than their usual intense matchups.
Like those past games, there’s no reason to think this one won’t be close. Both teams are coming off disappointing seasons and have holes to fill before they can return to college football’s elite.
The two Devins, Gardner and Funchess, will give Notre Dame trouble, while Everett Golson and Greg Bryant, among others, will challenge the Wolverines.
I think the game will come down to defense, and Notre Dame’s front seven will be able to generate just enough pressure against Michigan’s inexperienced offensive line and vulnerable ground game.
FINAL SCORE : Notre Dame 27, Michigan 24
Assistant Managing Editor
Notre Dame proved it could score in a big way when it put up 48 points against Rice, with Everett Golson looking sharp. Michigan proved it could score in a big way when it beat Appalachian State, 52-14. This game will come down to whichever defense can make timely stops of the other high-powered offense.
The Irish defense made mistakes early in the first half against Rice but settled down. It will need to lock in against Devin Gardner, who threw for 173 yards, efficiently completing 13 of 14 passes against Appalachian State. The Wolverines also rushed for a combined 350 yards. Notre Dame’s defense has the edge over Michigan’s offensive line and will prevent Michigan from activating its rushing attack.
FINAL SCORE : Notre Dame 35, Michigan 24
Assistant Managing Editor
Although Notre Dame defeated Rice, 48-17, there were some major issues of concern in the Irish secondary.
Yes, graduate student safety Austin Collinsworth was injured the Thursday prior to the game, but Michigan is no Rice, and Notre Dame will not be able to get by on athleticism alone.
The Wolverines will not drop passes like Rice did. Michigan receiver Devin Funchess is a deep threat at all times, and quarterback Devin Gardner will run all over the Irish if he is left with too much space.
Both offenses will produce, and the outcome of the game will come down to which defense steps up and makes crucial stops. In this huge home matchup, the Irish defense will step up and the Irish will come out on top.
FINAL SCORE : Notre Dame 31, Michigan 28
Everett Golson’s return to the field for the Irish was impressive and so were Notre Dame’s Week One offensive numbers — 48 points, 576 total yards.
But Michigan’s numbers — 52 points, 560 total yards — were just as noteworthy in its win against Appalachian State. Lucky for the Irish, the Wolverines primarily used their running game to put those numbers up. That will be key for a home-team win.
Notre Dame’s secondary struggled at times to stop deep passes, but the linebackers, led by Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith, were able to contain the Owls’ rushing attack.
That defensive strategy — along with a rowdy crowd at Notre Dame Stadium that’s ready to close the series out with a win — will fuel the Irish to a win Saturday.
FINAL SCORE : Notre Dame 31, Michigan 27