The Michigan Wolverines and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take the field today for what could be the last edition of this storied rivalry we see for quite some time. Realignment of the conferences has clouded the future of this rivalry. All we know is this could be the last time these rivals square off for quite some time.
Both teams enter the game ranked. Michigan checks in at number 17, while Notre Dame is slightly higher at number 14. Coming off of a BCS National Championship game appearance a year ago, the Fighting Irish look to once again beat the Wolverines and propel themselves into the national spotlight.
However, this won’t happen. Michigan will beat Notre Dame today, here’s why.
1) The Big House
Home field advantage is always huge for Michigan. If you don’t believe me, check out Stadium Journey’s home field advantage rankings from a year ago. The Big House tops the home field advantage list for college football.
Coach Brady Hoke still has a perfect record at home. 15-0, making it two seasons since Michigan has lost a home game.
The Fighting Irish have historically struggled to find their groove when playing at their northern rival. Although a better record than most can boast, Notre Dame enters tonight’s contest just 6-9 at the Big House. Michigan’s crowd will be raucous to say the least, it could be too much for the Irish to overcome.
After last year’s game you’re probably asking me how this could possibly be an advantage for the Wolverines. In 2012, Michigan turned the ball over a ridiculous six times against the Irish. They lost that game 13-6.
Looking back on that game and studying the film, Michigan certainly has focused heavily on protecting the football over the past week of practice. Five interceptions in the first half is incredibly unlikely to happen again, and if they are able to protect the ball, then surely they can increase last year’s paltry six point output.
On the other hand, new Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees has had issues with turnovers in the past. Although he was able to avoid the mistake of giving the ball to the defense against Temple a week ago, he should struggle to repeat that performance today.
3) Michigan’s running game
Although playing against lowly Central Michigan, the Wolverines opened their season with a huge 59-9 victory in week one. The most important part of that game was the balanced rushing attack that crippled their opponent. Michigan was able to total 242 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
It’s not as if they only possess a single rushing threat either. Three players had at least 50 yards, and no back had more than ten carries. Most teams like the luxury of having one change of pace back at their disposal, Michigan has a handful. Notre Dame better be ready to grind out this game in the trenches if it has a chance.
Notre Dame 17
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express