Friday, September 10, 2010

Preview Central: Notre Dame vs. Michigan

Let this get you in the mood for the game.

After one week of football, there are only three things we know going into this game:

  1. Denard Robinson is for real.  Really, really, real.
  2. Michael Floyd is going to have his pimp hand nice and ready for Michigan's secondary.
  3. Everyone else in the country is rooting for some way that both teams can lose this game.
Is UConn the Big East contender that everyone proclaimed them to be in August?  (Bonus question, does that even say anything positive about them when Rutgers takes a half of football to get warmed up against Norfolk St., Pitt is still coached by the Wannstache, and Cincinnati looks downright pedestrian under Butch "Sloppy Seconds" Jones?)  Was Michigan's defense that effective in stopping an experienced UConn offense, or did they stop themselves?  What about the UConn defense that spent all of last Saturday taking worse pursuit angles than a squad put together by a high school for the blind?

On the other side of the fence, what about Purdue?  Did Allen and Wood terrorize a competent defense, or is this unit the same 94th ranked rushing D from last year?  Was Purdue's back seven responsible for neutralizing Michael Floyd, or does that honor go to Dayne Crist?  Does anyone think Robert Marve can be a productive quarterback outside of Robert Marve?

Who expected Iowa's run to the BCS
after this close call?
Preseason polls take a lot of flack   and deservedly so   but week one polls might be even more reprehensible because after 60 minutes of football everybody thinks they know all the answers.  Florida's offense is going to struggle this year, Oklahoma isn't back, and Oregon is the second coming of the Greatest Show on Turf.  You could make arguments for all these points, but you could have said Ole Miss was going to be a powerhouse last year (won 45-14 over Memphis in week one, finished 9-4(4-4)) or Iowa was going to struggle (scraped by NIU 17-16 after blocking two FG's at the end of the game).  Week one gives us information on which to judge teams, but no context.  In college football, context is everything.

So after a week of games we don't know what to expect, but we know that the picture will begin to clear by the time we shut off the television late Saturday night.  Until then we are all just groping around in the dark, looking for the light switch to help us make sense of what has happened so far.


This doesn't mean that we can't make some educated predictions about what could happen tomorrow.  Brian from mgoblog has written up another superb preview this week   complete with Tom Hammond graphics, kittens, and Justin Bieber fan reaction videos.

The WLA has put together the usual set of hyper-specific, sometimes slightly insane predictions.

Magnus at Touch the Banner also comes through with his usual informed but pessimistic preview of the game. Ace at The Wolverine Blog is slightly more optimistic in his preview.

Doc Saturday decides to rain on everyone's parade by pointing out that the unending optimism that engulfs the winner of this game is going to eventually hit a brick wall of despair when, you know, both ND and UM play real teams and not the ghosts of past glories.

Finally, ESPN blogger Adam Rittenberg declares Michigan's defense to be the key to victory for the Wolverines, which like, duh.


And, since this wouldn't be a blog-proper if I didn't throw out a few wildly off base predictions of my own to retract on Monday when they are proven to be horribly wrong, here goes:
  • Michael Floyd gets his.  This one is obvious.  Brian Kelly could call down a prepubescent ND fan from the crowd Price Is Right style, and as long as he could chuck a ball 30 yards in the air, Michael Floyd would get it, then stop to remind JT Floyd or James Rogers of exactly what happened before giving them a quick stiff arm on his way to the end zone.  Floyd will top 100 yards and get one TD over top.
  • However, Floyd's production won't matter.  The Michigan defensive linemen should be salivating now that they get to match up against an offensive line unit that doesn't have 69 combined starts, and instead struggled to protect the quarterback late in the game:
"Purdue only blitzed 3 times before the score was 20-3. The Irish handled it at that time (+5, +12, +7). After, Purdue blitzed 8 times netting 2 sacks, 3 incompletions, 1 scramble (for 0 yards), and a safety on a run play. Against the late blitzes, the Irish succeeded once on an Inside Zone run (+18)." (Courtesy of AAL on mgoblog)
  • This should lead to at least three sacks by the defensive line, and a truly breakout performance from Craig Roh, who was oh-so-close last week. Look for Crist to be on the run all game. 
  • Armando Allen and Cierre Wood will have a productive day, netting 125-150 yards between them on around 4.0 ypc. Obi Ezeh will alternate solid plays with one or two boneheaded mistakes that break long runs. Jonas Mouton will continue his solid play as WLB and 3rd down pass rusher. 
  • Offensively, Robinson won't break 150 yards with his feet, but he will also carry the ball less as Smith and Shaw find more production with the defense focused on Robinson. 
  • Darryl Stonum will catch a long TD pass. It is time.
In the end, Michigan should control both lines enough to come away with the win. It won't be as large as last weeks drubbing of UConn, and the game will be close in the 4th quarter, but the Wolverines will get it done in the rain.

Prediction 28-21 Michigan.


  1. Disagree on your point #3. On this weekend, at least, Michigan gains the support of the vast majority of the country.