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Notre Dame Vs Western Michigan – Program Patterns Are About To Change

Posted By Jordan Lauterbach On Oct 16 2010 @ 12:46 am In Notre Dame | No Comments

Michigan hasn’t been good to the Irish. In fact, the state’s been downright awful. Whether it be a crushing home loss to Michigan or an even more crushing loss to Michigan State, its been a state the Irish wish would have left the union years ago. But those feelings will improve later on today. Bold statement time: This one won’t be close.

  Oh yeah, it’ll be that easy. The path to an undefeated October continues on Saturday for the Irish against Western Michigan. There isn’t much to know about the Bronco’s, except that they aren’t very good. 

But I know that you come to this space for a little more then “yo man, this team reeks”, so here it is…..

 They come from the Mid – American conference where they sit at 2 -3, good for third place in this powerhouse. The Bronco’s have beaten Ball State (last week) and Nicholls. If you’ve heard of Nicholls, leave a comment! Because I pride myself on honesty, I’ll tell you that I had to look it up.

 Being a College Football broadcaster/blogger/lover, I am thoroughly embarrassed by this fact. But nevertheless, here is what I found out about one of Western Michigan’s two victims.  They are 1 – 4 in the Southland (also a great show on TNT. That’s right, great) conference, a group that includes the likes of Stephen F. Austin and McNeese State. I swear to you that this is the first time I’ve never heard of a team since I was about seven, maybe younger.      

I tell you this as part of a much larger point: I’m not counting the victory against Nicholls as something to be concerned about. Sorry to all you Colonel fans out their.

But that is to say that Western Michigan does have to scare you in two aspects.

 1. They havethe potential to put up solid offensive numbers – By no means are the Bronco’s awful all the time. In both of their wins, they’ve scored over forty points. Against Nicholls, quarterback Alex Carder threw five touchdown passes and Brian Fields averaged more then six yards a carry. Last week, Carder threw four td’s.

 2. They can run the football in small doses – On top of Carder being a mobile quarterback, they have the ability to spread carries around to four or five guys. While this may look dangerous, it may also speak to the lack of a feature back they can latch on to and ride. Spreading carries around is fine if you can do it, but often times it acts as a mask to a larger problem.

 Notre Dame has stopped the run better in the last few weeks. They did a fantastic job against a potent running attack last week. Assuming the secondary is better then they were last week, Carder shouldn’t have a lot of success throwing the ball.

 Here’s one last thing that needs to be mentioned, almost as a gut check for where the program is at this point – Notre Dame has lost this game before. In fact, they’ve lost this game three times in the recent future. At home, big dog. Ring any bells? Syracuse, Uconn, Navy? They aren’t at a point where they can take any team for granted. No matter the place, no matter the opponent. It may be Western Michigan, but Syracuse was Syracuse and Navy was Navy.

 It’ll be a fantastic litmus test as to where this program is, in terms of program progress. I think the margin of victory and the dominance (or lack of) will say a lot about where this program is. This should not be close in the fourth quarter. Like anything, the win is the most important thing, but college programs going in the right direction shouldn’t be in games with the Western Michigan Bronco’s.

 Another interesting sub – plot will be how the offense changes without Kyle Rudolph. My guess? Not tremendously. Rudolph, despite his talent, has become a third option in the passing game. Theo Riddick has gotten most of the non – Michael Floyd looks. T. J Jones has also emerged as a very viable third option. The loss of Rudolph will most likely be seen more in the running game then the passing game. One hopes that the injury doesn’t curtail the confidence Brian Kelly has in the running game.

 The Pick: Notre Dame 36 Western Michigan 14 – Brian Kelly has spent the week telling his team that they “aren’t that good.” This is the perfect message to send. Not in the sense that playing with the self esteem on college kids is fun, but rather that Kelly knows the history of the program. More importantly, he knows the recent history of the program. You can bet your hat that Syracuse, Navy, and Uconn were all brought up this week. The Irish are on upset alert and they will respond with the most complete game of the year. Yes, even more so then the Holy War. 

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