Another Saturday of college football is fast approaching, and yet another opportunity for a Big-10 team to win a crucial game. The Michigan Wolverines will head into South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday night. With the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Wisconsin Badgers, and Michigan State Spartans all suffering humbling losses in recent weeks, the Big-10 is in desperate need of a statement victory.
Michigan also did not fair well in an early national televised game with the Alabama Crimson Tide. They were dominated in just about every aspect of the game, but a win over the 11th ranked Irish could go along way in making people forget that opening night defeat. The Irish, on the other hand, are riding high after easily handling the Spartans last week and surprising a few people in the process. They look to be slowly, but surely, establishing themselves as a top team.
If this year’s installment of this rivalry is anything like last year’s; we should be in for a real treat. The Wolverines rallied late for a fourth quarter comeback and barely escaped with a victory. So what does Michigan have to do this year to get the upset and secure their fourth straight win over the Irish?
Well the first thing the Wolverines need to be worried about is their running game. The Irish held Le’Veon Bell to just 77 yards on the ground last week, and have yet to give up a 100 yard rusher this season. If Denard Robinson is going to make any big plays, they may have to come in the passing game. He threw for 338 yards against Notre Dame last year, as he connected with nine different receivers in last week’s victory. The Irish also looked vulnerable to spread formations with four and five receiver sets against the Purdue Boilermakers a couple of weeks ago. So attacking them through the air may be the best course of action.
On the flip side of the coin, Michigan will somehow need to find a way to slow down the rushing attack of the Irish. The Wolverines have already given up a whopping 634 yards on the ground in just three games in 2012. Notre Dame loves to pound the ball with its three-headed monster of a backfield that contains Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood, and George Atkinson. If Michigan can’t at least slow them down just a little, it could turn into a very long night.
Lastly, turnovers will be crucial, as they are every week. Notre Dame has a plus-5 turnover ratio and a quarterback, in Everett Golson, who has only been picked off once all season.
Meanwhile, Michigan sits with a minus-3 turnover margin and Robinson has been intercepted four times in three games. If the Wolverines start losing the turnover battle, and if you factor in a strong running performance from the Irish; we could see Notre Dame dominate the time of possession, and the game.