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A Golden Opportunity for the Domers

Monday, September 08, 2008 - Justin Mantell, Contributor, UMGoBlue.com

After two years of losing badly to Michigan, the Golden Domers have a chance to enact revenge on a re-building Wolverines squad this Saturday.  It would seem the stars are aligned for the Irish, getting a crack at a young Michigan team in South Bend, except that Notre Dame’s own re-building is still a work in progress. 


Neither team's offense is setting the world afire as Michigan has averaged less than 250 yards per game this season, and the Irish turned the ball over four times against a poor San Diego State defense, and still seem to have trouble moving the ball on offense.    


There are two major reasons Michigan has beat up Notre Dame in two straight years—turnovers and stopping the running game.  In 2006 and 2007, Notre Dame turned the ball over 9 times versus Michigan and “rolled up” a total of negative 2 yards on the ground.  


The Domers were a mess entering last year’s game, so hosting Michigan after an opening game win should translate into a measure of confidence for the Irish.  Michigan’s confidence may be buoyed if only a little by putting one in the win column last week against Miami.


If the game does play out as the offense to the offensive game it appears on paper, Michigan should be in a favorable position with a better defense and FG unit. 


Michigan kicker K.C. Lopata is 13 of 15 on field goals in his career while Irish kicker Brandon Walker is just 6 of 13 with only one field goal beyond 40 yards.


As far as the defense, it is tough to tell if Notre Dame is any better than 2007 with only one game under its belt.  While the Irish did hold San Diego State to 74 yards on the ground, the Aztecs only had 15 rushing attempts, which actually works out to 4.7 yards per carry.  BlueFan would certainly take that average for the Michigan running game this week. 


After reviewing Michigan’s passing woes over the first two weeks, Notre Dame would be remiss if they did not stack the line and force Michigan’s shaky QBs to beat them.  If Offensive Coordinator Calvin Magee can work in some play-action passing on first down and the quarterback(s) can complete some of those passes, it may get the offense into a groove, which is the last thing the Irish want with the number of young playmakers Michigan has just waiting to take that next step.


The Michigan defense needs to continue stuffing the run and forcing the opposition to settle for field goals.  Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen can be forced into bad decisions if pressured (10TD/8INT in his career), so the Michigan defense, which has already registered 9 sacks in 2008, needs keep getting to the QB.  At this point, Michigan’s best offensive weapon may be the defense giving the Wolverines good field position, forcing turnovers, and keeping games close. 


Of course it is also possible that Notre Dame was just getting its legs last Saturday and is ready to pounce on the Wolverines this week, but BlueFan doubts it.




BlueFan’s Three-Point Stance


  • Michigan has gone two straight games, and 4 of the last 5, without a 100-yard rusher.  The Wolverines are 1-3 in those four games.


  • The Michigan defense leads the country in sacks with 9


  • Michigan has not beaten Notre Dame in three straight years since 1898 - 1900.




Tale of the Tape




Notre Dame


1-1 (0-0 Big Ten)











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Per Game




Justin Mantell

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