Mike's Blog on Notre Dame Football
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I like to look at the small things.  I can say that this will be a key matchup of two programs trying to return to national relevance.

I could say that Rich Rodriguez' team will play to remove pressure from their coach who is on the "proverbial" hot seat because of the poor performances the team produced during the last 2 seasons.

 I could say that Michigan will be distracted with the "Tate Forcier" situation.  By the way, do you think he will dress?  Would you?  

No.  What I like about the game this Saturday is all the "non game" comments I have heard while listening to interviews on mgoblue.com and und.com websites.  From the first interview earlier this week, when asked about the rivalry with Michigan, ND coach Brian Kelly was clear:   We don't play to the rivalry.  I understand and respect it but we will play this one game at a time.  I will play to win.  Packages?  There are plays I would like to call but we will keep it simple.  It is about winning.  You can expect the same plan as against Purdue.  

Ok.  But what about Denard Robinson?  While ackowledging that he is a special player when opening his press conference, Kelly also mentioned that the danger from Michigan comes also from running backs Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith who shared the workload against the Huskies and combined for 100 yards against what was to be a stingy defense.  Brian Kelly's recipe is the way Notre Dame played against Purdue. 

"We played disciplined football, with a lot of enthusiasm and with effort and if we are going to apply that each and every week, we will be succesfull as long as we execute better."

 

Rich Rodriguez meanwhile, in a very contrasting interview said: '' All our players understand this is a rivalry''.  The plan seems simple.  Get the ball to Robinson who ran for close to 200 yards and passed for another 186.  As long as he can sustain the hit, it could be the right and only recipe needed Saturday.  

 

The setup by Notre Dame?  On a video posted today on UND.com, every single player was singing the praise of Robinson, how good he was, how elusive he could be, how tight his spirals were - a clear break and contrast from the conservative statements made all week.  Consciously or not, Robinson was praised by the Irish players the same way 13 year old girls praise Justin Bieber.  I think it is a setup.  They want him to believe that he is superior.  And then, they will do what they can to prove him wrong.   Do they have a package to frustrate the star Wolverine? No doubt.  Will they be successfull? We'll see Saturday.  

 

As far as I am concerned, I owe it to have a prediction.  Vegas odds puts ND favored by 4.  Using the formula that the home team usually gets an average of 3pts in their favor for being home, it is a technical tie.  I don't think that Robinson will pass or run for 200 yards.  I don't think that he will sustain the hits from the front line and the hits coming from the Manti & Co.  The over / under is at 53 points and I believe it is too high.  I say Notre Dame takes it but with a 25-20 win.  I welcome your thoughts.  

 

September 11, 2010  11:14 AM ET

Michigan 31

ND 17

September 11, 2010  11:57 AM ET

I am a huge Michigan fan, and was actually at the game last week. The Michigan defense is really bad, and I think that will be the difference in this game. I see (and it kills me to write) ND winning:

ND: 38
UM: 21

September 11, 2010  12:13 PM ET

Who cares, they both suck!

September 11, 2010  01:45 PM ET

It would seem you do on some level since you actively opened the thread and took the time to post! I will give you one thing though...based on your avatar it would appear you are an expert on teams that suck!!

September 11, 2010  06:00 PM ET

ND taking command in the second half... oh and how about them JMU Dukes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 11, 2010  07:41 PM ET

Ha Ha!!!!!!!!

They lost...

But I can see the wheels spinning already for the Notre Dame Rankings conspiracy...

Michigan finished just out of the top 25 last week (in the AP Poll)...

Well - this win (and some other losses by other teams) will put them into the Top 25 (say 21)...

Now - Notre Dame played them tough... Almost pulled it out... If Crist had played the whole game... Who knows...

Therefore - Notre Dame will crack the Top 25 (My guess is 24 or 25)...

September 11, 2010  08:06 PM ET

Humble pie.

September 12, 2010  10:36 AM ET

I love being wrong!!

 
September 13, 2010  10:19 AM ET

Guys, thanks for stopping by. let me address most of you. I stand corrected and clearly misjudged Denard Robinson. AS LONG AS HE STAYS HEALTHY, Michigan will have a hell of a team. But we saw what happens when too much emphasis is on one player, as soon as Crist went down, everything collapsed for ND - including defense! The pass from Dayne Crist to go ahead in the 4th quarter was something to rave about. After I collected my self, I had immediate flashbacks of last year's game. Now, just as last year with Tate Forcier, ND gave too much time to Michigan and the explosive Robinson at qb. These things are not scripted however, and our defense couldn't hold. Michigan will finish in top 10 if Robinson stays healthy, but Notre Dame will also have a good season nonetheless.

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