Leis for Manti: A Notre Dame / Michigan Prediction

Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

To show their support for Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o (after the recent deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend) the Notre Dame student body will be wearing leis during Saturday’s ND-Michigan game. Still, the Irish players know if they lay an egg during tonight’s performance against the Wolverines, all this goodwill could be lost…

To win tonight, the task for the Irish is simple — at least on paper. They must stop Denard Robinson,  something they have never done before. In their last two contests, the elusive Michigan quarterback has torched the Irish for nearly a thousand yards, not to mention a pair of last-second touchdowns that caused  every Irish fan to either swear, cry or sigh. And it won’t get any easier, for with Jamoris Slaughter joining Lo Wood on the sidelines, both with season-ending injuries, the Irish have no experienced cornerbacks left.

But as the front seven, led by “TNT” (Te’o, Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt) as well as Zeke “Revelations 3:16″ Motta,  continue to put increasing pressure on the opposing quarterback, this experienced group has been able to take the pressure off the defensive backfield. Certainly, they must continue to do so tonight against Irish-killer Robinson for Notre Dame to have a chance.

Speaking of giving your team a chance, the relatively modest accomplishments of shifty Irish QB Everett Golson have some writers labelling him “Denard Robinson Lite.” But by keeping turnovers (only two in three games) to a minimum, the game Golson plays always gives the Irish a chance–and then some. Against Michigan, he must work to re-establish All-American tight end Tyler (the) Eifert “Tower” who had zero catches against Michigan State last week, and the continued emergence of veteran wideouts T.J. Jones, Robby Toma and John Goodman could help Golson with this mission. Meanwhile, running back Cierre Wood, who came back from his suspension last week with a vengeance, should provide the run-pass balance the Irish offense needs to succeed.

As usually happens when Notre Dame and Michigan get together, I predict tonight’s battle will be close. But the tide has turned, and whether it takes a late Te’o fumble recovery or a Harry Oliver-esque field goal, the Irish will prevail.

Final Score: Notre Dame 24, Michigan 23.

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