I was flipping through the only two rankings I can find that rank all of Division I-A: The Sagarin Computer rankings and the Sports Illustrated power rankings.
In particular, I was curious where the rankings had Notre Dame and Michigan relative to each other.
n the computer ranking, Notre Dame was consistently ranked ahead of Michigan, whereas in the human ranking Michigan was ahead of Notre Dame.
And the more I thought about this, the more the human rankings bugged me.
Michigan started the season ranked in the top 5. Notre Dame was stuck somewhere in the 40s, if I recall correctly.
Notre Dame played top 15 teams back-to-back, one of them an away game in front of 110,000 fans.
Michigan played a I-AA opponent and an unranked team, both at home. losing both.
Based upon what these two teams have done on the field this season, by what rationale could you rank Michigan ahead of Notre Dame?
Notre Dame has a bad rushing offense, and a mediocre passing offense. Michigan has a pass defense that is horrible, and a rushing defense that isn't much better. Notre Dame's defense has been good against the pass, bad against the run. Michigan's offense has been decent wth the run, and not so good with the pass.
But more importantly, Notre Dame has faced a much higher caliber of opponent through the first two games. Statistics are a little misleading this early in the season, but I defy anyone in the country to convince me that Georgia Tech and Penn State do not have, at minimum, top 15 defenses (if not top 10, or even top 5). And Notre Dame has struggled on offense as a result. Alternately, I defy anyone in the country to make a case that Michigan's opponents are top 10 offenses. Oregon may be pretty good, but you can't convince me that Appalachian State's offense would be top 15 in Div. I-A.
What I'm trying to say here is that Notre Dame's offense has struggled against top defenses. Michigan's defense has struggled against pedestrian offenses. In the end, Notre Dame is simply better prepared going into this game than Michigan is.
Which is why the computers are better. The only reason that Michigan is still ranked ahead of the Irish in the human polls is that they were so overhyped, that they have much further to fall down the rankings.
I expect Notre Dame to come out early, hit Michigan in the mouth, and turn the crowd of 110,000 Michigan bandwagon fans against the home team.
Notre Dame will find an offense against this Michigan defense, mark my words. Michigan sucks. Michigan is possibly the worst defense in the BCS conferences right now (except for maybe Louisville). And they will get embarassed again Saturday afternoon.