In what was probably the most important victory since 1993's win over FSU, the Irish outlasted the Michigan Wolverines for a hard-fought and well-deserved victory in Ann Arbor.
The Irish beat the #3 team in the country AT THEIR HOUSE. Even Llloyd had only 6 losses and a 18?-game winning streak at home going in. This is a landmark victory for the Irish, and one that will go down as one for the ages.
That said, the Irish do have some realtively small issues to work out.
While the secondary and defensive line play is improving, the linebackers need to step it up a bit. The backers are great at defending the run, but were caught off guard defending the short pass several times (I know, I'm nitpicking a little bit).
The offense started out as efficient as they ever were against Pitt, but Michigan's D stepped it up, and Brady had trouble locating his passes. While the success of the offense is a team effort, Brady needs to be more relaxed to operate this offense. However, this is by far the most hostile environment Brady will play in this year, and he did a superb job considering the situation.
I would have liked to see more production out of the running game, but the Michigan D is fast, physical, disciplined, and has good technique. Darius would have run all over any other team on our schedule (excepting USC) with the effort he gave today.
Looking ahead, the Irish have met their biggest challenge from a situational standpoint. With one week to prepare, the Irish went into arguably the most intimidating stadium in the game and outlasted a top 3 team, leading by as much as 14 in their way to the win.
While they will have a challenge against a pass-happy Purdue team, a top 5 rated (in my opinio overrated) Tennessee game, and the nation's best team in USC, the Irish will have two of those at home, and the other at a small stadium that is likely to be well-represented by Irish fans. Also, the games against the Trojans and the Vols are at home, with bye weeks to prepare.
It is still early in the season, but I no longer have any real worry about the other six games against Michigan State, Washington, Syracuse, Navy, BYU, and Stanford. Those teams should be as outmatched as the Panthers were last week. Beyond that, this team is capable of going undefeated this year. I'm not sure they can stop the USC attack, but they are capable. And even scarier, I think this team is starting to believe that themselves.
Therefore, I am going to re-think my preseason 9-2 prediction, and up that to a 10-1 finish with a BCS appearance.
Congratulations to the student-athletes, coaches, and administration of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on a great win this week. As a Notre Dame student, every member of that team made me proud to call myself a part of the Notre Dame family this week.