Notre Dame welcomes Michigan into Notre Dame Stadium and looks to complete the sweep of Michigan Schools this season after handing Michigan State their first loss of the season Saturday night to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2002.
One of the best rivalries in the Midwest, the two schools first played in the 1887 season and when the two meet Saturday night it will pit the top two programs in winning percentage and the first and third all-time wins leaders in college football history.
This Saturday night marks the 40th time the two teams have met and Michigan is carrying a three game winning streak with them to South Bend, including last year’s epic 35-31 come from behind win when Denard Robinson connected with Roy Roundtree on a 16-yard game winning touchdown.
In fact, the last three wins have been decided by the Wolverines with less than a minute remaining on the clock. Two years ago Robinson ran in for the decisive score with 27 seconds left in regulation and the year prior, Tate Forcier won the game with a touchdown pass with 11 seconds before the buzzer.
Robinson threw for 338 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 108 and a score in the 2011 matchup and he has been on fire since the opening week loss to Alabama.
Notre Dame’s defense however limited Michigan State to their lowest offensive output since the 1999 season, only yielding a field goal for the evening and containing all-world running back Le’Veon Bell.
Michigan will need to rely on the arm of Robinson in order to avoid being too one-dimensional and more manageable for the Irish defense to contain Robinson. Notre Dame has the blue print how to bottle up the electrifying runner based on the Alabama game, but they don’t have the personnel to employ such a strategy.
I am interested in seeing how well the Notre Dame secondary sticks with Michigan’s receivers before breaking down and coming in run support when Robinson scrambles. If they can stop the pass, then they can stop the run.
Normally that is a backward philosophy, but they will dare Robinson to throw the ball on them, and while he has burned them in the past, the way the Irish played vs. the Spartans has me believing they will be able to solve the riddle of Robinson.
The Irish offense has been fairly balanced unlike the Wolverines one man attack. Unless Michigan proves they can find a sidekick for Robinson I am siding with Notre Dame to end the three-game winning streak of the Wolverines and improve to 4-0.
Notre Dame wins 28-27
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.