Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Notre Dame at Michigan Preview
University of Notre Dame
Fighting Irish (0-2)
Head Coach: Charlie Weis
Coaching Record: 19-8, 3rd season
Last Year: 10-3, Lost to Louisiana State in Allstate Sugar Bowl (#17 AP / #19 Coaches postseason ranking)
Last Week: Lost to Penn State, 31-10
University of Michigan
Wolverines (aka Skunkbears) (0-2)
Ranking: Started 5th, currently unranked
Head Coach: Lloyd Carr
Coaching Record: 113-36, 13th season
Last Year: 11-2, Lost to Southern Cal in Rose Bowl (#8 AP / #9 Coaches postseason ranking)
Last Week: Lost to Oregon, 39-7
Location: Michigan Stadium (aka The Big House)
Date and Time: September 15, 2007 3:36 p.m.
Series Record: Michigan leads 19-14-1 overall, 10-7-1 in the Big House
Notre Dame Quarterback and Receivers vs. Michigan Secondary
Notre Dame Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Penn State Linebackers
Weis is probably doing cartwheels this week looking at the Michigan defense. Yes, out offense has been anemic to say the least, but we faced Penn State (currently ranked 1st in rush defense, 2nd in total defense in the country) and Georgia Tech (8th in total defense). And while those numbers may be skewed by playing us, both teams were highly touted defenses coming into the season.
Michigan, however, played a considerably weaker slate to start the season, opening with an historic loss to I-AA foe Appalachian State. Then last week, they were blown away by unranked Oregon.
Our true freshman QB looked poised and confident last week, if a little hamstrung by playcalling and blown protections. This week, Charlie can finally open up the playbook, and put Jimmy's arm on display for the whole world to see.
The reason? Michigan is 116th in the country in pass efficiency defense, 109th in rushng defense, 108th in total defense, and 101st in scoring defense. In short: Michigan's defense sucks. Yes, our offense sucks, and when we have the ball, it will often seem like a contest to see who can suck more. However, the caliber of our first two opponents has prepared us better for this game.
Edge: Notre Dame for both
Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. Michigan Defensive Line
As I said last week, I won't be giving the edge to our offensive line against anyone until they prove that they deserve it. They spit the bit last week again against Penn State, costing this team a chance at victory. The defense had kept us in the game, and Jimmy had placed us in position to score, when the O-line's sucktitude ruined it for everyone. So, as bad as Michigan's defense is, I just can't in good conscience give us the edge here.
Notre Dame Defensive Line vs. Michigan Offensive Line
Even more surprising than the sucktitude (my word of the day) of Michigan's defense s the ineptitude of Michigan's offense. The Michigan O-line, while not as bad as ours (not by a long shot), is absolutely horrible for the amount of experience and depth they have. They are giving up 2 1/2 sacks a game to bad defenses. Our defense will be far better than either Oregon or Appalachian State, and Michigan only scored 7 against Oregon last week. Laws will take on the All-American Jake Long, which should be an interesting matchup, and is too close to call. Kuntz will feast on this interior line, though.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Linebackers vs. Michigan Running Backs and Tight Ends
Our rushing defense is ranked 100th in the country (just 9 spots ahead of Michigan), and hasn't shown a consistent ability to stop the run, especially late in games. However, this defense has shown up early in games, and if our offense can sustain some drives, I expect that number to increase dramatically over time. All that said, Hart is the best running back in the country, even better than Tashard Choice. He doesn't fumble, and almost never gets stopped for a loss. He's not a burner, but he'll get 4 yards a carry damn near every time he touches the ball. And he's pissed off - so pissed that he guaranteed victory for his team this week. That alone should piss off our defense enough to key off on him, but he'll get his yards no matter what we do.
Notre Dame Secondary vs. Michigan Quarterbacks and Receivers
Pass defense has been one of the bright spots for the Irish this season. Michigan's passing offense had been passable under Henne (although not spectacular), but now Henne is injured and their true freshman QB will start. ND's 32nd ranked pass efficiency defense will not be forgiving to the young quarterback. If Michigan is going to win this game, they'll have to do it on the ground. Unless, of course, Manningham goes buck-nutty on us again, catching 10 passes for like 300 yards and 5 touchdowns. Ugh. Deja vu...
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Coaches vs. Michigan Coaches
Because of the coachng missteps the last couple weeks, my gut reaction for this matchup was to favor the opposing coaches. However, by losing to a Division I-AA opponent, Carr has taken bad coaching to a whole new level this year. I'm giving Weis the edge this week, but if he can't move the ball on this awful defense, I'm gong to stop defending him against everyone. Including Duke.
Edge: Notre Dame
Quarterback and Receivers vs. Secondary: Edge Notre Dame
Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Linebackers: Edge Notre Dame
Offensive Line vs. Defensive Line: Draw
Defensive Line vs. Offensive Line: Edge Notre Dame
Linebackers vs. Running Backs and Tight Ends: Edge Michigan
Secondary vs. Quarterbacks and Receivers: Edge Notre Dame
Coaches vs. Coaches: Edge Notre Dame
Analysis and Prediction
Finally, an opponent more on our level. Yes, Michigan is a preseason top 5 team who is angry and embarassed and loaded with experience. Woopty-friggin-doo.
Monumentally, historically, unprecedentedly sucks.
All that said, Michigan simply doesn't lose 3 straight games in the Big House. It just doesn't happen.
Notre Dame is going to find an identity on offense against a defense that is demoralized and in complete disarray. Weis finally can get some breathing room, as Michigan does not have a linebacker the caliber of Dan Connor or Philip Wheeler. We'll find a running game, and that will energize our passing game. We've been there, done that as far as playing in front of 100,000 plus screaming fans. It won't rattle us again.
We're not going to blow 'em out - Hart is too good for that - but we will win.
Notre Dame 28