Preview: Notre Dame

Editorial Note: This is going to be a slightly briefer, more modified version of the Notre Dame preview than the one I originally had planned. It seems as if outside forces have conspired to keep me busier than normal lately. And this blog, sadly, has suffered my neglect. I apologize for this and swear to make it up to you guys some day.



(1-0)
(1-0)

Michigan
at
Notre Dame






Game Stuff
When: September 11, 2010
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
Time: 3:30PM
TV: NBC (Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan)
Local Radio: 104.3 WOMC, 1050 WTKA
Line: Michigan +3.5
Last Meeting: Michigan 38, #18 ND 34 (2009)
Series Record: UM Leads 21-15-1
Michigan Record: 1-0 (0-0)
Last Game: Win vs UConn 30-10
Notre Dame Record: 1-0 (0-0)
Last Game: Win vs Purdue 23-12

Notre Dame Stuff
www.und.com
Location: South Bend, IN
Enrollment: 11,733
Conference: Independent
Nickname: Fighting Irish
Head Coach: Brian Kelly
OC: Charlie Molnar
DC: Bob Diaco
Offensive Scheme: Spread
Defensive Scheme: 3-4
2009 Record: 6-6
Returning Starters: Off: 5, Def: 9

A Little History
The top 2 winningest programs of all time (UM #1 of course), Michigan and Notre Dame share quite a bit of history together. Michigan and Notre Dame both consider each other rivals, but both have stronger rivalries with other schools. While Michigan enjoys rivalries with tOSU and Sparty, the Irish have great annual matchups with U$C, Sparty and Purdue.

It was Michigan that first brought the game of football to South Bend in the late 1880's. Michigan had grown tired of always beating teams like Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and Princeton, so players from UM went to South Bend to teach the game to students at Notre Dame. Notre Dame's first ever game was played against UM in 1887. Michigan won the first 8 contests between these two schools.

Today, the rivalry is probably not as strong as it was in the 80's and 90's, when 16 games were played, UM winning 7, ND winning 8 and 1 tie in 1992. Aside from both schools being ranked #1 and #2 in all-time wins, both programs have suffered from struggles recently. Games between these two teams, however, have remained extremely competitive. UM and ND have played every year since 2002, UM winning 4 games, ND winning 4 games.

It has been reported that the rivalry is probably going to remain intact until 2015 or so until the Big Ten goes to a 9-game conference schedule. A couple years ago, it was reported there was a handshake agreement between the ADs to keep Michigan and Notre Dame on each others schedules until 2031. It seems, however, that such a deal would be unlikely with the changes being made to the Big Ten football landscape.

Stats Comparison (Based on Week 1 Stats)

         Category             Michigan         ND       Advantage
Rushing Offense Avg/Yds287153MICH
Passing Offense Avg/Yds186205ND
Total Offense Avg/Yds473358MICH
Scoring Offense3023MICH
Rushing Defense Avg/Yds138102ND
Pass Efficiency Defense92.72108.28MICH
Total Defense Avg/Yds343322ND
Scoring Defense1012MICH
Net Punting Avg/Yds5131.67ND
Punt Returns Avg/Yds738ND
Kickoff Returns Avg/Yds13.6725ND
Turnover Margin11DRAW
Pass Defense Avg/Yds205220MICH
Passing Efficiency172.42152.02MICH
Sacks04ND
Tackles For Loss45ND
Sacks Allowed0 2MICH

Slightly less informative game preview than what I originally had planned
So this is the part of the preview post where I talk about Notre Dame's offense, their defense, and even break down their special teams play. But like I noted above, that ain't gonna happen so much this week.

Instead, we're going to start off with this image...
Yes, it's the Denard Laser Show. Denard...with lasers...and dancers.

I don't even know where this came from...and I don't care. I saw it here. But it's likely to have originated from somewhere deep within the dark, inky shadows of Schembechler Hall. It's an old-fashioned internal Heisman campaign if I've ever seen one. This kind of awesome isn't man made...it creates itself.

Really? No. Not really.

Notre Dame's response?

Tom F-ing Hammond. I rest my case.

This game is a bit of a tough one for some Michigan fans. On one hand, we made Jimmy and Charlie our whipping boy last year with an old-fashioned last-second thriller, so the pressure is off for Michigan (more importantly, Rodriguez) to win against them again. But on the other hand, Notre Dame is our rival, no question about it. So a win is always important.

But they're 3rd on our rival depth chart behind tOSU and little brother. Actually I'd probably consider Minnesota higher on the rival depth chart due to the trophy, the Little Brown Jug. But to each his own. I guess it just really boils down to the fact that I've never really considered Notre Dame a huge rivalry game. I think it's cool to play them once in a while because it's nice to see the #1 and #2 teams in all-time wins go head-to-head. But I certainly don't need to see it every year.

Howeva...that's all besides the point. We have a game to play, and we're a blog...so we must talk about it.

Brian Kelly has brought his version of the spread offense to South Bend. He has a first year QB in Dane Crist who looked pretty decent in their win against Purdue last week. He's big, tall, and seems to have pretty good sense of the offense. If Kelly is smart, and I think he is...he's going to use the pass to try and open up the run. Even though we shut down Frazer last week, he still had his chances...his receivers just forgot how to catch for about 3 hours. The point is, our secondary is still susceptible to the big play. Heck, they're susceptible to the small and medium play as well. Part of my just thinks we got lucky last week.

But what scares me the most about Notre Dame is Armando Allen Jr. This guy is both big, and he can move. He reminds me a lot of Tyrone Wheatley. Except he hasn't ever put up Wheatley-type yards. However, the potential is there. But he's a big back living in a spread offense. So in that sense he reminds me of Brandon Minor. He'll get about 15-20 touches per game, and what he does with them is a crap shoot. He could have 75 yards, or 175 yards...it all depends.

Another reason for Michigan fans to worry, is Notre Dame's talented receiver corps. We are going to have a helluva time covering Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, TJ Jones and Theo Riddick. Those guys have to be chomping at the bit to get another shot at our DBs after they chewed us up last year. Our only hope is that either A) These guys went to the UConn school of ball-catching, B) Our DBs suddenly get a whole lot better...like, now, or C) Dayne Crist gets rattled by Mike Martin, Craig Roh, Ryan Van Bergen and Greg Banks...a lot.

Offensively for Michigan, things look better. Notre Dame's defense gave up some yards against a modestly terrible Purdue offense last week. I think Denard Robinson is going to able to do what he did to UConn, to Notre Dame. I really do. I think the Irish will give up some big yards to Michigan, both on the ground and even more through the air. My hope is that Denard is able to spread the ball around a bit more than last week, and not put himself into a position to get injured. The last thing we need is a true freshman playing in South Bend, or someone to have to help Tate find is helmet...and then the field.

Up front, our line should be able to contain the Irish defensive line. They are big and somewhat experienced, but so are we. Notre Dame does not have an answer for Denard, though. No one does. That's what makes him so dangerous. And go ahead and stack 8 or 9 in the box...go ahead. See what happens.

This game has all the potential to be a classic shootout. But a shootout would have to favor Michigan in this instance. We just have more playmakers, more speed, and did I mention we have more speed? I have no doubt that Brian Kelly is a good coach, and he may do well in South Bend...but not this weekend. A 3rd-year Rich Rodriguez offense outguns a 1st-year Brian Kelly offense...easily...at least on paper.

But they don't play games on paper, do they? They play them on television...so that's why we must watch. 3:30...NBC...be there.

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