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.
Notre Dame Defense
Behind the spirited play of LB Mani T’eo (9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL) held the wiley South Florida bulls to 254 total yards and the dangerous and daring B.J. Daniels to 128 yards in the air and 37 rushing yards. He was held to 4.7 yards an attempt in passing. DE Kapron Lewis-Moore had eight tackles and a sack against South Florida. The defense limited SFU to 126 yards on the ground and 3 yards per carry.
Harrison Smith was called for two consecutive facemask penalties against the Bulls that sate them up for a score. The usual steady and dependable captain much show more poise against Michigan. The secondary only let up 128 yards passing and not one pass lo.
They face a very dangerous QB in Denard Robinson who burned the Irish for 502 yards running and passing. They must contain him and limit their penalties as well.
The team rushed for 190 yards in three quarters of the game. The team only accounted for 39 offensive plays. The load of the ground attack was carried by running back Fitzgerald Touissant. He totaled 11 carries for 80 yards and two scores. RB Michael shaw also is a force at running back(54 YDS, 2 TDS)
The QB Denard Robinson returns to Notre Dame where he will strike fear in the hearts of every Fighting Irish fan. Last year the crafty QB torched the Fighting Irish for 504 total yards. His numbers in last week’s win at Western Michigan were plebian with 9 of 13 passing with a mere 98 yards. He still is a threat on the ground that the Irish need to keep in check.
WRs Junior Hemingway and Roy Roundtree are the big targets for Robinson. Though they only combined for 50 yards receiving last game the two combined for over 1500 receiving yards and 11 TDs last season. TE Kevin Kroger is also a top receiver who only notched.
Its kicking unit is inconsistent as well as they only 1 of two field goals. Their punting was stromh with an average of
This week’s Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week was none other than Wolverines Linebacker Brandon Herron. His two touchdown scores came on an interception and a fumble recovery. He’s the only player in the modern era in Michigan history to score two touchdowns in a game. The players up front for the Wolverines yielded just 96 yards on the ground but a whopping 6.6 yards a carry to Western Michigan’s premiere running back.
The secondary held Western Michigan to 188 yards passing. The corps yielded 262 yards a game last season. Safety Jordan Kovacs also is a force on defense as he accounted for 10 tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble and a broken-up pass. His monster game has given him 200 tackles at Michigan.