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Staff Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Michigan

Observer Sports Writers | Thursday, September 20, 2012

Allan Joseph

Oh, the Michigan game. It’s the bane of this senior class’s football existence. Look back on Manti Te’o’s illustrious career, one of the best in Notre Dame history. Does it seem right that he’s never beaten a team coached by Rich Rodriguez or Brady Hoke? These aren’t exactly Bo Schembechlers on the sideline, after all. He’ll be fired up and making plays all night long.  

On the other side of the ball, the Irish can actually control the pace of the game with what should be an effective rushing attack, which means they can keep Denard Robinson off the field. Te’o and his front seven will keep Robinson in check, and Everett Golson will make a name for himself in a clutch victory. It’ll be close, of course, but Te’o and his classmates will pull this one out in an electric atmosphere.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, Michigan 24

Andrew Owens
Assistant Managing Editor

With strong defensive play (just 30 points surrendered in three games) and 11 fewer turnovers than last season at this time, Irish coach Brian Kelly’s plan for the program is coming together.

But this week represents a new test for the Irish. For Notre Dame to truly enter the BCS discussion, it needs a win over Michigan first. In each of the past three seasons, the Irish have suffered last-minute losses to the Wolverines, the worst of which was last year’s fourth-quarter collapse.

Denard Robinson will make some big plays, but the Irish front seven will contain him most of the time and, most importantly, late in the game when it matters most. This time, a Notre Dame score in the final minutes will devastate Michigan and propel the Irish to a 4-0 record.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 30, Michigan 24

Chris Allen
Sports Editor

Any member of the current senior class, be it a member of the football team or an interested observer in the stands, will have nightmares about Denard Robinson well after he or she graduates. He has his flaws as a passer, but his back-to-back game-winning drives the past two seasons have displayed a knack for the dramatic and swung this rivalry. Notre Dame has one chance to swing it back and enact a measure of revenge on Denard before he leaves town forever.

If recent history is any indication, it’ll be close and high-scoring. Denard will get his chance to win the game again. I suspect this time the increasingly indescribable Te’o and the stout Notre Dame defense will make a stand, and deliver an iconic win under the lights.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 34, Michigan 30

Andrew Gastelum
Associate Sports Editor

Expectations are sky high. And recently when that happens, the Irish lose and drop from their unusually high ranking.

But this Irish team showed me something different last week that goes far beyond making tackles and scoring points. The pass defense is young, the offense often sputters and yet Notre Dame still finds some way to pull out a victory when everything looks to be in its way.

There is really no stopping Denard. But the only way to make sure he doesn’t kill Notre Dame’s dreams for the third straight year is to keep the ball away from him for as long as possible. I believe the Irish rushing attack will do just that, and have a huge game to push the Irish to 4-0 in a hectic September and avoid yet another heartbreak.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Michigan 21

Matthew DeFranks
Associate Sports Editor

With a win against the rival Wolverines, Notre Dame will crack the top 10 for the first time since 2006, when Charlie Weis was the future of Notre Dame football. Now, it’s Brian Kelly’s shot.

Last week against Michigan State, Kelly and the Irish rolled out a dominating defense and an efficient offense in grinding out a physical win over the then-No. 10 Spartans. And the same game plan should work against a Michigan team that has given Notre Dame fits over the past three years.

For the seniors, it will be their last – and best – shot at taking down Denard Robinson. The running game will continue to improve as Cierre Wood gets reacclimated and the defense will be its usual self.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 26, Michigan 13