A major battle of ranked teams will head to the battlefield as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish pay a visit to Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan to rumble with the Michigan Wolverines. The Fighting Irish won this game at home last year by a score of 24-17.
The Fighting Irish are coming off a hard-fought 30-27 home win over the USC Trojans. Notre Dame is now at 5-1 on the year and ranked 7th in the latest AP Poll. Notre Dame still has their sights set on getting into the playoffs, but they will have to win out to make that happen. They have a couple of pitfalls left. One is this game and the 2nd is a road game against Stanford at the end of November. The Irish need everything to break right for them to get into the playoffs, but still, they have a shot. The Irish are in the Top 15 in the nation in both scoring and points allowed. Can they keep rolling? We shall see.
This was supposed to be their year. The Michigan Wolverine had the Big 10 Title within reach, especially since Urban Meyer left Ohio State. Well, things don't always go as planned. The Wolverines are now 1-10 overall and 0-8 as an underdog when facing a top 10 team under Harbaugh. That is not good at all and they are facing another Top 10 team in this one. The Wolverines were down 21-0 last week to Penn State before making a game of it. They eventually fell by a score of 28-21. Can the Wolverine bounce back and more importantly can they beat a Top 10 team? I guess you'll just have to check back to find out.
Irish Hold Off The TrojansThe Notre Dame Fighting Irish have had another solid season so far as they are 5-1 with their lone loss being by just six points at Georgia. Since they were not blown out in that game, the Irish still have an outside shot at the postseason party. They have to win out and that makes this game a huge one for them. It is one of their two toughest games left on the schedule. The other is down the line at Stanford.
Notre Dame comes in off a 30-27 home win over the USC Trojans, which was a game that was closer than it was expected to be, but that's what happens in a rivalry game. The Irish had a 17-3 lead at the half, but the Trojans just didn't give up in the contest. The Irish were led by their ground game as they rumbled for 308 yards and at 6.4 yards per pop. Tony Jones Jr. didn't score a TD, but he had a monster game as he rumbled for 176 yards in the contest and it won't be that easy in this one as he is facing a tough Michigan defense that is 31st in the nation against the run.
Jones had a slow start to the year, but he has now run for 409 yards over his last three games. Ian Book didn't have a great game as he threw for just 165 yards and a TD but he also ran for 49 yards and a TD. Book has now thrown for 1419 yards with 14 TDs and just two INTs on the year while also rushing 209 yards and three TDs. The Irish will need to get their running game going in this one as it will loosen up that Michigan defense that comes in ranked 8th in the nation against the pass. Jones will look for another big game and that should allow Book to have a big game.
The Notre Dame defense has been solid overall, but it did struggle some in their last game against the Trojans. They allowed 255 yards passing and 171 yards rushing in the contest. They hope to get that defense back on track here against a Michigan offense that has been very inconsistent al year. Notre Dame is still 31st in the nation against the pass but they are 64th against the run. Michigan is 79th in rushing this year so the Notre Dame defense could have a good shot at improving on their rushing defensive numbers.
Can The Wolverines Beat A Top 10 Team?The Michigan Wolverines were expected to take the Big 10 title this year. After all, they had plenty of returning starters back from last year and Urban Meyer had left Ohio State. Well, things don't always go as planned as the Wolverines have looked anything but dominating this year They were crushed by Wisconsin a few weeks back, beat Iowa just 10-3 at home and lost by seven at Penn State last week while losing at Penn State last week by seven. They have a couple of blowout wins in the Big 10, but that was against Rutgers and Illinois. After losing last week to Penn State, Michigan is now 1-10 overall and 0-8 as an underdog when facing a top 10 team under Harbaugh. Those are straight-up records. Can the Wolverines breakthrough with a win against a Top 10 team? You'll have to keep reading to find out.
Michigan trailed Pen State 21-0 before making a game of it the rest of the way. They eventually came up short, but at least the Wolverines showed some fight. The defense played well as they held Penn State just 293 yards of total offense, but it just wasn't enough. The defense hasn't been as strong as last year, but this is still a tough defensive unit that has ranks 14th in the nation in ya5rds allowed at 285 ypg and 21st in points allowed at 19 ppg. The defense will be tested against a Notre Dame offense that just ran for 308 yards against USC last week. If the Irish get their run game going, then Book will have an easier time through the air. Still, it will not be all that easy as Michigan is 8th in the nation against the pass.
Harbaugh is used to the constant criticism, but what about his players?
"It's what goes on, right?," said Harbaugh told reporters in his mid-week press conference . "People who don't know what it's like to be a player or a professional in the arena. 'I like to scream at the TV and yell stuff, they just want to get their emotions out or passions out.' It's kind of what keeps football as popular as it is. That people have those kinds of passions toward the game. In that way, that's the positive. As far as the sticks and stones will break my bones, that they do but the words don't. Just learned that a long time ago. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."
Michigan's offense has been less than stellar all year and they have averaged just 15 ppg in their three games against top 25 teams thus far. They will need more offense in this one if they hope to beat the Irish. Shea Patterson threw for 276 yards against a tough Penn State defense last week, but he also had an INT and no TDs in the Contest. Patterson has now thrown for 1522 yards with nine TDs and four INTs on the year while completing just 57.4% of his passes. He will need to have a big game here, but the Irish are 31st in the nation against the pass.
Patterson will need some help from a running game that has struggled at times this year. The good news is that they will be taking on a run defense that has struggled this year. Patteson could have a solid game if the run game gets going and the onus of that falls on the legs of Zach Charbonnet, who leads the team with 487 yards on the ground. If Harbaugh doesn't figure out how to beat a top 10 team, then his seat could be getting very hot. He already has hinted that he could eye a return to the NFL. Those distractions could not be good for Michigan as they head into this huge game.
Notre Dame is:
- 7-2-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
- 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 games following a straight-up win
- 42-20-2 ATS in their last 64 games in October
- 5-13 ATS in their last 18 games following an ATS win
- 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games on fieldturf
- 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games