Head Coach Rich Rodriguez and his Michigan Wolverines look to improve on their impressive season opening win this week when they head to South Bend to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. While many college football fans will be watching the marquee matchup of Miami and Ohio State, the Michigan/Notre Dame game could be leading the highlight shows come Saturday night. And that’s because neither team is going to play any defense in this one. The scoreboard operators in South Bend are gonna be busy and might even be able to file a worker’s compensation claim after this one.
Both teams come into this game with something to prove. Although they both won their season openers, no one was surprised at either win. This is the game that both coaches have had circled since the schedules came out. A win in this game will go a long way to proving to the country, and each team, that they are at least on the way back to national relevance. While neither team is ranked nationally, expect one of them to jump into the rankings with a win on Saturday. With a win, Michigan can look to be 5-0 heading into their rivalry game with Michigan State. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has a very easy schedule and could be looking at a BCS bowl bid. All of their semi-difficult games are at home this year and a date with USC at the end of the year could loom large in the BCS picture.
But first things first. These teams are going to have to play some defense or hope that they have the ball last. Michigan comes into this game on the heels of a stellar performance by quarterback Denard Robinson who tore up UConn last weekend. The Irish are going to have to do a better job of slowing Robinson down, but Michigan’s offensive line played very well last week and opened some big holes for Robinson. The threat of the run allows Robinson to connect downfield when using the play action pass. If the safeties come up, Robinson has the ability to hit standout wide receiver Roy Roundtree down the field. Rodriguez’s offense is tough to stop when he has the right trigger man. Robinson showed last week that he has the ability to be the catalyst for a very explosive offense.
Michigan’s very young defense is going to have to play well again to give their team a chance to win. Coach Brian Kelly brought his up-tempo offense from Cincinnati to South Bend and he will push the pace with some very talented skill players. His quarterback is junior Dayne Crist. Crist is a decent quarterback, but lack the accuracy needed to utilize the the spread offense effectively. Some were surprised that Coach Kelly ran the ball as much as he did last week, but he said that he wanted a more conventional offense and more balance. Let’s just call that what it is. That means that he doesn’t entirely trust Crist to run this offense just yet. Well, this might be the week to take off the kid gloves and let Crist air it out to talented receivers Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph because Michigan’s secondary is B-A-D bad.
Michigan came into the season with a very young secondary. Add that to the fact that the injury bug has hit the defensive backfield and Crist should be able to make some plays downfield. If that happens, Irish running back Armando Allen will be able to find some running room and really make life difficult for the Wolverin defense. Michigan is going to have to find a way to get to the quarterback to protect that secondary. If they repeat the no sack effort from last week, Crist will have a field day.
Well, that’s enough of the informative stuff. I was asked to write this blog from the perspectve of a real fan, not an analyst. As a lifelong Michigan fan, I have a very strong dislike for everything Notre Dame. Their team and their fans have a sense of entitlement that just doesn’t fit in the midwest. Even Ohio State fans hate Notre Dame almost as much as they hate Michigan! I hate the painting of the helmets every week, Touchdown Jesus, “Play Like a Champion Today”, the little leprechaun and pretty much everything about the Golden Domers. I do like the movie “Rudy”, because….well, it’s just nice to see the little hobbitt get to play in the game. Needless to say, I will be rooting for Michigan in this one.
I wish I could watch this game live, but I will be at the Ohio State/Miami game. I will DVR the game so I can watch Michigan score at will and improve to 2-0. Michigan is an underdog in this one at +3.5. Take the points and make some cash. In fact, I like Michigan to win outright, so play the money line at +155 and count your winnings. I love the over of 52, as well.
Not such a great week for my picks last week. I lost on Texas, USC and Virginia Tech. I pushed Pitt and won Michigan. That leave us at 1-3-1 for the season. We need a bounce back week this week. Here are this week’s picks:
Auburn -1 @ Miss. St: Take Auburn laying the one. They are a much improved team this year and will surprise some people in the SEC.
Georgia Tech -14 @ Kansas: Kansas lost 6-3 at home against N. Dakota St. last week. Enough said.
That’s all I like on this week’s card. Enjoy the weekend.
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Written by Nick English