You are using an old web browser. Such browsers do not support modern web technologies and do not offer proper security. Please update your browser or download one of the others suggested for free.
Mozilla Firefox |
Google Chrome |
Internet Explorer |
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Wolverines: Preview and Pick
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Wolverines: Preview and Pick
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish garnered an easy win in the first week of the college football season, but the competition is about to get much more difficult. In the second week of an already entertaining season of college football the Michigan Wolverines will host the Fighting Irish in a very big football game for both teams.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Wolverines Odds
The college football odds makers realize that this will be a very close game this weekend. The Wolverines opened up as a field goal favorite. The early betting action in this game is on the home team and the juice is starting to adjust to offset the action as this line can now be currently found at (-3, -125). Another thing to note is the fact that these teams genuinely do not like one another.
In fact Irish head coach Brian Kelly is questioning whether or not it is even a rivalry. "I really haven't seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries," Kelly said on a Sunday conference call, per the Chicago Tribune. "I've seen it as just one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played." This could be in response to the fact that Michigan head coach Brady Hoke suggested that the Irish are “chickening out” of the series by limiting future meetings.
If the Irish want to stop the Wolverines they will need to bottle up Devin Gardner. Gardner was 10 of 15 for 162 yards with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Gallon and two interceptions. The Irish defense looked beatable at time against Rice, but their offense looked promising as the focus of concern heading into the regular season.
Tommy Rees, who recaptured the starting quarterback job when Everett Golson was suspended from school, was 16 of 23 for 346 yards, his fourth career 300-yard passing day. That is reason enough to make fans optimistic for a big winning season in South Bend.
The college football betting trends in this game reveal some very interesting angles for sports bettors. The Irish are 1-6 straight up in the last seven road games against Michigan. The Wolverines are 13-5 straight up in the last 18 games and 5-0 straight up in the last five games on their home turf at Ann Arbor.
This will be a huge game for both schools as they will look for the signature victory early in the season to set the tone for the rest of the year.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Wolverines Pick
With plenty of time to go before game day, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to kickoff.
Michigan will host the Notre Dame football team Saturday for what might be the last time for a while. So let the smack talk begin. Introducing first, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. The topic: the great rivalry these teams share.
"I really haven't seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries," Kelly said on a conference call, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I've seen it as just one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played. I've been in Michigan a long time. I've always felt the Notre Dame-Michigan game was a big regional game. But in the Notre Dame history books, this game has (been) played, but obviously there have been some years where it hasn't been played for a number of years."
To be fair, Kelly spent 17 years, including 13 as head coach, at Grand Valley State and was at Central Michigan for three seasons, so he has seen his share of teams led by the likes of Lou Holtz, Bo Schembechler, Gary Moehler and Lloyd Carr.
And it's not like the teams have played every year since their first meeting in 1887. In fact, Saturday is the 41st meeting, and Michigan leads the series 23-16-1.
Perhaps this was just a retort to Wolverines coach Brady Hoke, who said in May (to a group of Michigan fans) that Notre Dame was chickening out of the Michigan series. Hoke later clarified those statements, but he didn't back away from them.
"Everybody knows the challenges we have as an independent when it comes to scheduling," Kelly said. "We're a team that a lot of people want to play, including Michigan, obviously, or Brady wouldn't comment in that regard."
With Big Ten expansion and Notre Dame adding five Atlantic Coast Conference teams to its schedule down the road, the Irish backed out of 2015 and 2017 games with Michigan. There are no other games scheduled between the two historic programs.
Michigan's new-look offensive line passed its first test. The next one is going to be much tougher. After steamrolling Central Michigan 59-9 in the season opener, the 17th-ranked Wolverines face No. 14 Notre Dame in just the second night game in Michigan Stadium history.
The Wolverines had question marks coming into this season after replacing the three interior players on their offensive line. Jack Miller made his first start at center, while Graham Glasgow and Kyle Kalis debuted at guard. Miller is a redshirt sophomore, Glasgow is a former walk-on who only became a scholarship player last week, and Kalis is a redshirt freshman.
Behind them, and fifth-year senior tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, Michigan ran for 242 yards and six touchdowns.
"Jack, Graham and Kyle — we told them that they did a nice job last week, but it gets a little tougher this week," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Monday. "No disrespect to Central, but Notre Dame has some big guys up front who have played a lot of snaps. They line up in an odd front, so Jack's going to have a big guy directly on him, and they are really active. It's going to be a much bigger test."
Manti Te'o was the star of last season's Notre Dame game, and he's gone to the NFL, but Hoke doesn't think that is going to make life much easier for the Wolverines.
"They've pretty much got the same front seven that they had a year ago," he said. "They had a very good player who is now playing at the next level, but they've done a great job of recruiting, so it's just as good a group as it was a year ago, and you saw how much trouble they gave us."
Lewan, a preseason All-America, agreed with his coach. "Losing Te'o is tough, but that's still a really good defense," he said. Lewan is more concerned with the distractions that his young teammates will be facing. The first night game in the Big House — two years ago against the Irish — was a massive event, and this one promises to be just as big. ESPN's College Gameday show will be at the game, and Michigan hopes to break the attendance record of 114,804, set during the first primetime game between the two teams.
Lewan's task, not just as the leader of the line, but as the offensive captain, is to try to get his teammates to forget that any of that is happening.
"It's awesome that Gameday is going to be here, and there will be a lot of amazing things going on Saturday, but we need to remember that none of that is for us," he said. "That's for the fans, the media and the people watching on TV. We just need to focus on doing the same thing we do every Saturday — play a game of football. We can't worry about the lights or the fans or anything else. Just play football."
At the same time, though, Lewan knows that Saturday will be special. Not only is it his last chance to play the Fighting Irish, but it will be the last schedule visit for Notre Dame to Ann Arbor. "This is a huge national rivalry — one of the three big ones Michigan has, along with Michigan State and Ohio," he said. "I'm going to remember these games after I'm gone as special times in my career, but I won't be thinking about that Saturday."
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly made some headlines on Sunday when he said that he didn't consider Michigan a "historic, traditional Notre Dame" rivalry, but Hoke wasn't going to get involved in a war of words.
"He speaks for Notre Dame, and I speak for Michigan," he said. "Maybe they don't consider it a big rivalry, but we do. This is a game that started in 1887, and we've won 904 games and they are pretty close behind, so you are talking about two of the great programs in the history of the sport."
Notre Dame had one of the best defensive lines in the nation in 2012. Though the Fighting Irish lost a few of their starters, the depth on the line has ensured that they remain considered one of the toughest in the country.
Here are three reasons why the Wolverines' backs will have a rough day this Saturday.
1. Lack of Depth at RB
Last Saturday, the Wolverines lost redshirt freshman Drake Johnson to a torn ACL during their game against Central Michigan. Prior to his injury, Johnson earned a spot on Michigan's two-deep roster behind star running back Fitzgerald Toussaint.
The injury leaves rushing duties to senior Toussaint and true freshman Derrick Green as his primary backup. Green is no slouch. The former 5-star running back was given offers by Auburn and Alabama. However, his lack of experience will be an issue when he goes toe-to-toe with the Irish defense.
2. Issues with the Offensive Line
Students of the game know that it takes more than speed, power and agility to make a successful running back. You also need a solid offensive line to open running lanes. As such, problems for the Wolverines' ground attack go beyond the lack of depth at back.
Michigan's new starting center, Jack Miller, showed several red flags during the team's game against CMU. Keep in mind that the inexperienced Miller will be directly across the line from Irish goliath Louis Nix. Nix and defensive end Stephon Tuitt are potential first-round NFL draft picks.
Michigan's offensive line, on the other hand, features three players with one start apiece.
3. The Irish Front Seven
In 2012, Notre Dame had the nation's seventh-best rushing defense, allowing just 105.7 rushing yards per game. The Irish have three returning starters on the line. The aforementioned Nix and Tuitt, along with Prince Shembo. They are joined by defensive end Sheldon Day, linebackers Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox, and freshman former 5-star recruit Jaylon Smith.
While Smith is the youngest player on the line, what he lacks in experience at the college level, he makes up for in talent. According to 247Sports.com's composite rankings, Smith was the No. 2 overall recruit and the top outside linebacker of the class of 2013.
Add all that up and you have one serious uphill battle for Toussaint this Saturday in The Big House. He is an elusive scatback with great speed and a low center of gravity, but his talent will simply not be enough to overcome the issues on the Michigan O-line, the strength of the Irish front seven and the lack of depth at his position
The Irish vs Wolverines game should be fun to watch as the teams are seeming like they don't like each other very much as they are trading barbs leading up to kickoff. Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke as circled this game as must-win and they will be backed by a nice home field advantage with a packed house with ESPN Gameday in the house.
Bu the Irish are the better team and they held back in the first game looking forward to this one. The underdog cashes 67% of the time in this series and the Fighting Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Big Ten The Irish defense will flex their muscles and get the big win.