Notre Dame travels to Ann Arbor this Saturday to face the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor at Michigan Stadium. The matchup will be broadcast at 8 PM on ESPN and ESPN 3.
The Fighting Irish are coming off a devastating loss to the South Florida Bulls. With that loss The Fighting Irish have dropped out of the top 20 and now are ranked no.35 The Wolverines soundly defeated fellow Michigan team the Michigan Broncos 34-10 in three quarter game shortened by the weather. In their last meeting in 2010 Michigan defeated the Fighting Irish 28-24.
The Norte Dame-Michigan rivalry dates back to the year Notre Dame football formed in 1887. The Wolverines lead the overall series 22-51 as the schools have played each other every year since 1978 with the exceptions of 1983-84, 1995–96, and 2000-01 seasons. The rivalry reached a zenith in on October 3rd, 1943 The Fighting Irish, then ranked number one, triumphed over the second-ranked Wolverines. It was the first game in the modern era between the country’s two top teams. Through the 2007 season Notre Dame is the second most successful college football of all-time with a record of 845-295 and a .733 winning percentage. Michigan, in fact, is the winningest program of all-time with at 884-308 with a winning percentage of .735.
The tradition of the Blue and Gold versus the Blue and Yellow is not lost on Michigan coach Brad Hoke. “This is as important as anything,” Hoke said about playing the Fighting Irish. “I think coach Schembechler used to say, you really get a gauge on where you are at as a team. It is an environment where you have expectations as to how your guys are going to play.”
This meeting will be a game a firsts for the Irish. They will play their first ever night game at Michigan stadium while wearing new/retro jerseys to be unveiled for the contest.
The tradition continues with a full preview of the matchup between the two powerhouses.
Notre Dame Offense
Tommy Rees has been elevated to the status of starting QB over senior quarterback Dane Crist This is not suprising move considering Crist’s (7/15 passing, 95 YDS, 1 INT, 0 TDS lackluster performance last year and in last week’s loss against , the South Florida Bulls. In limited action Reese engineered a ND comeback that fell short in the last minute.
Brian Kelly knows this isn’t personal and just about his team winning. “We try to live in the now,” Kelly said. “The ‘now’ for me is winning football games. Tommy Rees gives us the best chance.” Look for him to continue his winning ways. He also added “ “I have a great deal of confidence in both of them,” coach Brian Kelly said. “Tommy gets the nod.”
Cierre Wood proved he is a go-to back for the Fighting Irish. His lofty numbers (104 YDS, 1 TD) kept the Irish in the game. In fact Wood is the first rusher to hit the 100-yard mark since Armando Allen accomplished that feat in 2009 against UConn. He also added 44 yards receiving to his stellar game.
Jonas Gray only had 17 yards rushing on 4 carries and a huge turnover that was returned by the FSU’s Kayvon Webster for a eye-popping 96 yard score. This play broke Notre Dame’s spirit and cost them the game. He can seek redemption in this week’s game.
Starting TE Tyler had an outstanding game with career highs with six catches and 93 yards against South Florida. He did have some drops however In the first half however. Fellow receiver Michael Floyd began his redemption year with a bang with 12 catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns as he continues his bid for best in the nation. Theo Riddick (3 Receptions, 32 YDS) and T.J. Jones (6 receptions, 58 YDS) had lackluster games. These players need to step up against the Wolverines.
iddick also was inconsistent as a punt returner that resulted in poor returns and one fumble. Davaris Daniels and Daniel Smith may see some action on the field as well.
K David Ruffer missed his only FG try for 30 yards and has missed his last three dating back to the Sunbowl last season. Punter Ben Turk fared no better averaging only 34.2 yards per punt and none were placed inside the 20 yard line.