coleryan Posts:21487 Followers:24
On 08/31/2014 11:34 AM in NCAA Football

Michigan at Notre Dame Game Day Central


The Notre Dame Fighting Irish get their first tune up of the season when they host the Michigan Wolverines.

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Let’s go!

Cole

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21487 Followers:24
09/01/2014 11:44 AM

The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry is about to go dormant again.

The series dates to 1887 when Michigan students traveled to South Bend to teach Notre Dame students the game. The game has featured exciting games, standout players and feuding coaches from schools 150 miles apart that are both coming off easy opening victories.

Michigan defensive end Frank Clark doesn't like what's happening. "That's one of the big rivals. You got Notre Dame-Michigan. You got (Michigan) State-Michigan. You got Ohio (State) vs. Michigan. For a team to opt out of that contract, and to opt out of playing another team that is a great rival and is one of those great games, it's almost like a slap in the face," he said. "We're going to do what we've got to do to get the job done."

In 2007, the two schools announced they would play annually through 2031. Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said he was blindsided when Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick handed him a letter before the 2012 game informing him Notre Dame was ending the series. Brandon said he didn't read the letter until riding back to Ann Arbor.

Swarbrick, though, said Brandon knew the notice was coming, saying he told him in a phone conversation. Swarbrick said it was necessary because Notre Dame had agreed to play five games a season against Atlantic Coast Conference teams when it joined the league in most other sports while staying independent in football. Swarbrick said Brandon told him that when he received the letter it would become public quickly because of public record laws.

"I said, 'Let me think about that, whether it makes any difference.' I talked to some people here. I walked up to him on Saturday and told him, 'I've thought about it. I still have to give you the letter,' and I handed it to him," Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said the university had to get some games off its schedule and the Michigan contract had an automatic rollover provision with a year being added each time a game was played. He said Michigan insisted on that rollover provision.

"They were worried about the impact of a ninth game in the Big Ten schedule so they wanted the flexibility to end it if they needed to," he said.

It's not the first time the series was abruptly ended. In 1910, the year after Notre Dame beat the Wolverines for the first time, Michigan canceled the game the day before the game, claiming the Irish were using ineligible players.

In part because of a feud between Knute Rockne and Fielding Yost, the two schools didn't play again until 1942, and then it only lasted two seasons.

The series didn't resume again until 1978, but quickly rekindled the rivalry. The final game has become a hot ticket, with prices running $300 or more on Stubhub.

Players on the 17th-ranked Irish say they will try to avoid the hoopla this week. "I don't think I get into all the hype of it around here," quarterback Everett Golson said. "But at the same time, you have to take care of business and prepare. Michigan is a great football team, so it's going to be a tough one. But we'll be ready for it."

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and Michigan coach Brady Hoke stoked the fire last year. Kelly initially said he didn't see the game "as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries," going on to call it a "big regional game." He flip-flopped two days later, calling it "a great and historic rivalry."

Hoke accused the Irish of "chickening out" of the series. After the Wolverines beat the Irish 41-30 last season, Michigan played the "Chicken Dance" over the stadium sound system.

Hoke said Saturday he's disappointed the series is ending. "It's always been a great football game. Always. Bo (Schembechler) would say, it kind of lets you know where the team was early in the season because of the similarities of the athletes on the field. I just think for college football, it's a great rivalry. The significance of being the last one down there, yeah, there's significance to it," he said.

Kelly said what rankles him is losing three times in four games against the Wolverines, who have won six of the last eight games. "I don't like losing, so I'd say that I don't want to lose to Michigan," he said.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21487 Followers:24
09/02/2014 03:41 PM

Three things to watch for Michigan

• Michigan’s defensive letdown. The Wolverines played a near-flawless first half against Appalachian State’s spread offense, allowing only one drive of more than four plays. But after halftime, they allowed two extended touchdown drives — 11 and 19 plays — in the first three series, both 75 yards or more.

• The offensive line. The front five played well Saturday and the one undecided position was assumed by Kyle Kalis, even though he didn’t start, and he was very physical, including plowing a defender 15 yards on a De’Veon Smith touchdown. One of the better linemen, Graham Glasgow, will return after a one-game suspension.

• The road reaction. Michigan has struggled in big-time road games under Brady Hoke — 1-11 in his three years against strong road/neutral opponents. That includes the 2012 loss at Notre Dame, when the Wolverines turned the ball over six times and still only lost, 13-6.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21487 Followers:24
09/03/2014 09:06 AM

Ask Michigan defenders and coaches what is the first thing they notice about Notre Dame’s offense, and the answer is hardly surprising.

It would be difficult for anyone to have missed quarterback Everett Golson’s performance in Notre Dame’s season opener Saturday, a 48-17 victory over Rice in which he played a role in five touchdowns.

Golson was 14-for-22 for 295 yards and two touchdowns of 75 and 53 yards and rushed for three touchdowns in his first game back after his suspension last season for what he called “poor academic judgment.”

“To me, watching him on tape, he has a really strong arm,” said Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, whose team heads to South Bend on Saturday night, the last time the teams meet for the foreseeable future.

“He has thrown so many deep passes this last game, more than he usually would, that were on the money. I see a guy who’s not only mobile but also has a really, really strong arm. He’s becoming a really complete quarterback in my mind.”

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly described the 6-foot, 200-pound Golson’s performance in the victory as “electric.”

“He kept his eyes downfield, knew when to run, knew when to throw it, and those are things we really talked about,” Kelly said after the game. “We didn’t want to overcoach him in that we were going to allow him to get outside the pocket and be a football player and just naturally go play the game. He came back and I think really showed the kind of player that he can be.”

Golson said he felt considerably different than he did two years ago.

The biggest difference, he said, was his confidence. “There’s areas I could clean up,” Golson said after the game, referring to footwork and technique. “But I think overall (the difference was) confidence.”

It had been 19 months — 600 days — since Golson last played, and that was in the BCS title loss to Alabama. When he returned to the Irish for spring practice, Kelly marveled at how much his quarterback had improved in terms of film study and understanding the offense.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke could not help but be impressed by Golson’s performance. But he was not surprised. “He’s pretty athletic,” Hoke said. “I always thought he threw the ball well from a mechanical standpoint. ... He is an impressive guy. He can be true with his feet, he can be true with his arm.

“Anytime a guy is involved with five touchdowns, he’s going to impress you. How he managed the offense, how he ran the offense, obviously he’s a dual-threat guy.”

Dual-threat quarterbacks have given the Wolverines some problems, but senior linebacker Jake Ryan said facing Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner in practice every day has been helpful in preparations.

“We’ve seen guys like that over the years,” Ryan said Tuesday after practice. “We’ve practiced against Denard (Robinson) and Devin. We feel ready.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21487 Followers:24
09/04/2014 10:48 AM

The following are this week’s key matchups the Irish must control to defeat the Wolverines:

Jaylon Smith vs Devin Gardener:
Last season Michigan quarterback Devin Gardener burned the Irish on route to a Wolverines victory, this season the Irish need to contain the athletic signal-caller to have any chance. Sophomore standout Jaylon Smith will be critical to limiting the damage Gardener can do. Smith will need to use his speed to help keep Gardener in the pocket and make him a pass first quarterback. If the Irish can make Gardener a pocket passer they can get to him and force him to make mistakes and turn the ball over.

Cody Riggs vs Devin Funchess:
With it looking like KeiVarae Russell will be out again this week while an academic investigation continues it will be up to Cody Riggs to slow down Devin Funchess. Riggs looked solid in his Notre Dame debut but had issues staying on the field because of fatigue. The Florida native will be at a size disadvantage against the 6’5’’ Funchess who physically resembles a tight end. The junior wide receiver is Gardener’s favorite target and started off the season with a three touchdown catch performance. Riggs will need safety help in order to hold Funchess in check or it could be a long night for the Irish defense.

Ronnie Stanley vs Frank Clark:
Ronnie Stanley looked at home in his first career start at left tackle for the Irish in last week’s victory. However, this week he is in for a much bigger challenge when he faces Michigan’s senior defensive end Frank Clark. Clark is a solid pass rusher so Stanley will need to be at his best to protect Everett Golson’s blindside, but Clark is even stronger as a run defender. Stanley will need to be physical with Clark who has a great motor and is very disruptive or the senior could throw a wrench in the Irish running attack which is the base of the offense.

Will Fuller vs Blake Countess:
With DaVaris Daniels currently out of the lineup for the Irish the title of go-to receiver is up for grabs, and early on Will Fuller is doing his best to earn it. Fuller led the Irish with four receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown versus Rice and will need another big effort against the Wolverines. Attempting to shut him down will be Blake Countess. Michigan’s redshirt junior had a big game versus the Irish last season picking off Tommy Rees twice. Fuller does possess the speed to get behind Countess though and create big plays in the passing game for the Irish offense.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21487 Followers:24
09/05/2014 12:07 PM

The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry is about to go dormant again.

The series dates to 1887 when Michigan students traveled to South Bend to teach Notre Dame students the game. The game has featured exciting matchups, standout players and feuding coaches from schools 150 miles apart that are both coming off easy opening victories.

Michigan defensive end Frank Clark doesn't like what's happening.

''That's one of the big rivals. You got Notre Dame-Michigan. You got (Michigan) State-Michigan. You got Ohio (State) vs. Michigan. For a team to opt out of that contract, and to opt out of playing another team that is a great rival and is one of those great games, it's almost like a slap in the face,'' he said. ''We're going to do what we've got to do to get the job done.''

In 2007, the two schools announced they would play annually through 2031. Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said he was blindsided when Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick handed him a letter before the 2012 game informing him Notre Dame was ending the series. Brandon said he didn't read the letter until riding back to Ann Arbor.

Swarbrick, though, said Brandon knew the notice was coming, saying he told him in a phone conversation. Swarbrick said it was necessary because Notre Dame had agreed to play five games a season against ACC teams when it joined the league in most other sports while staying independent in football. Swarbrick said Brandon told him that when he received the letter it would become public quickly because of public record laws.

''I said, `Let me think about that, whether it makes any difference.' I talked to some people here. I walked up to him on Saturday and told him, `I've thought about it. I still have to give you the letter,' and I handed it to him,'' Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said the university had to get some games off its schedule and the Michigan contract had an automatic rollover provision with a year being added each time a game was played. He said Michigan insisted on that rollover provision.

''They were worried about the impact of a ninth game in the Big Ten schedule so they wanted the flexibility to end it if they needed to,'' he said.

It's not the first time the series was abruptly ended. In 1910, the year after Notre Dame beat the Wolverines for the first time, Michigan canceled the game the day before the game, claiming the Irish were using ineligible players.

In part because of a feud between Knute Rockne and Fielding Yost, the two schools didn't play again until 1942, and then it only lasted two seasons.

The series didn't resume again until 1978, but quickly rekindled the rivalry. The final game has become a hot ticket, with prices running $300 or more on Stubhub.

Players on the 16th-ranked Irish say they will try to avoid the hoopla this week.

''I don't think I get into all the hype of it around here,'' quarterback Everett Golson said. ''But at the same time, you have to take care of business and prepare. Michigan is a great football team, so it's going to be a tough one. But we'll be ready for it.''

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and Michigan coach Brady Hoke stoked the fire last year. Kelly initially said he didn't see the game ''as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries,'' going on to call it a ''big regional game.'' He flip-flopped two days later, calling it ''a great and historic rivalry.''

Hoke accused the Irish of ''chickening out'' of the series. After the Wolverines beat the Irish 41-30 last season, Michigan played the ''Chicken Dance'' over the stadium sound system.

Hoke said last Saturday he's disappointed the series is ending.

''It's always been a great football game. Always. Bo (Schembechler) would say, it kind of lets you know where the team was early in the season because of the similarities of the athletes on the field. I just think for college football, it's a great rivalry. The significance of being the last one down there, yeah, there's significance to it,'' he said.

Kelly said what rankles him is losing three times in four games against the Wolverines, who have won six of the last eight matchups.

''I don't like losing, so I'd say that I don't want to lose to Michigan,'' he said.

The Wolverines looked good in their opener last Saturday, pounding Appalachian State 52-14 as Devin Gardner threw three touchdown passes to Devin Funchess in the first half. Gardner went 13 of 14 and Michigan rushed for 350 yards behind Derrick Green (170) and De'Veon Smith (115).

Notre Dame also got a very encouraging performance from its quarterback last Saturday in a 48-17 victory over Rice. After missing last season for academic impropriety, Golson threw touchdown passes of 75 and 53 yards and became the third Irish QB to run for three touchdowns in a game.

''There's a lot of things that he will tell you that he's got to continue to improve on, but there's a confidence that he carries with him that is starting to emanate, and that's going to only get better and better as he gains more confidence,'' Kelly said.

The coach said there is no change in the status of five players who were investigated by the university for possible cheating.

He said Tuesday that the status of starting cornerback KeiVarae Russell, leading returning receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive end Ishaq Williams and backup linebacker Kendall Moore could change quickly if he receives word they are eligible to play. Kelly said last week that the investigation is complete and the cases were in the hands of the school's code of honor committee.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0