I never imagined Notre Dame would be sitting 3-0 headed into the Michigan game, but they most certainly are undefeated headed into this game!
This Saturday evening’s matchup of No. 11 Notre Dame and No. 18 Michigan will be a fight to the finish for sure. It marks the 40th installment of the storied rivalry, which the Wolverines lead 23-15-1 all-time.
The Fighting Irish are out for revenge this year, after losing to the Wolverines in heartbreaking fashion in the Big House last year by a score of 35-31. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was unstoppable and led the Wolverines to a 28-point fourth-quarter comeback victory, after they trailed 24-7 entering the fourth quarter.
Last weekend, for the first time since October of 1983, Notre Dame defeated a Top 10 team during a night road game. The Irish defeated the Michigan State Spartan’s in East Lansing by a score of 20-3, with the Spartans’ only score coming on a 50-yard field goal late in the second quarter.
The Notre Dame defense dominated the Spartans and prevented Michigan State from entering the red zone for a full 60 minutes. The following detail is even more shocking … the Irish defense limited the Spartans to only one snap past the 50-yard line during the second half. Here come the Irish indeed.
Spartan running back Le’Veon Bell, who entered the game as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate, was held to a mere 77 rushing yards on 19 carries.
The Irish offense knew it was up against a tough Michigan State defense, but it managed to find a way to make it down the field for four scores … two touchdowns and two field goals.
Quarterback Everett Golson completed 14-of-32 pass attempts for 178 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown pass which John Goodman caught with one hand while fending off the defender with his other hand. Golson also rushed for a six-yard touchdown himself.
Surprisingly enough, the Irish ground game accumulated 122 net yards, this against a solid Spartan defense that had not allowed any offensive scores all year.
The 20-3 victory moved Notre Dame up to the 11th spot in the AP Poll, and 15th in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
Michigan began their season with a 41-14 loss to Alabama at Cowboys Stadium, but since then the Wolverines have won two games in a row, including last week’s big 63-13 victory over Massachusetts.
Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson accrued a total of 397 yards against a weak UMass defense. Robinson completed 16-of-24 passing attempts for 291 yards and three touchdowns, but threw one interception that was returned for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
Robinson also led the Wolverines in rushing with 10 carries for 106 yards, and a 36-yard touchdown run that gave the Wolverines a 35-10 lead.
The Michigan defense, however, did not look nearly as strong as it should have against UMass. This is good news for the Irish.
The Wolverines allowed 259 total yards to the Minutemen, 200 more yards of offense than they had against Connecticut in Week 1.
My top two players to watch this week:
For Notre Dame … Manti Te’o.
It will be up to Manti Te’o to rally his defense to stop the ever-so-quick and elusive Denard Robinson. This task has not worked so well for the Irish in the past two meetings, with Robinson pilling on 948 total yards during their past two games. Te’o is playing at the top of his game right now. He had 12 tackles last week against Michigan State, seven solo and five assists, and had his first career interception. Te’o is also playing with a heavy heart after the loss of his girlfriend and grandmother last week. The Notre Dame fans are uniting behind this outstanding young man by wearing leis to the game in support of him this week. Notre Dame family forever.
For Michigan … Denard Robinson.
Robinson’s numbers are just staggering.
In Robinson’s career year-to-date, he has thrown for 5,339 total yards and has rushed for 3,474 more. That’s a combined total of 8,813 yards of offense in only three seasons. And he was a starter in only two of them. Staggering.
He is the machine behind the Michigan offense, so if anything were to happen to him, it would be disasterous to the Wolverines.
It should be a fun game to watch on Saturday. It will be interesting to see who wins in the battle of tug of war … Michigan’s offense or Notre Dame’s defense.
Cheers & Go Irish!