Thursday, September 20, 2012
ND prediction: Week 4 vs. Michigan
By Matt Fortuna
I got a taste of humble pie by whiffing on last week's prediction. You'll have to forgive me if it happens again, because there is no telling what can happen whenever the Irish and the Wolverines take the field together. Michigan has pulled out three straight against Notre Dame by four points each time, and each contest was decided in the final minute. Can the Irish put an end to the misery and start 4-0?
When Michigan has the ball: Denard Robinson. Denard Robinson. Denard Robinson. The man is capable of a big play every time the ball is in his hands, and Notre Dame's defense cannot get caught snoozing at any point. The Irish's front seven will need to get pressure on Shoelace and force him into some untimely throws, which will make life easier for Notre Dame's depleted secondary. Fortunately for the Irish, they should have no problem winning the battle in the trenches against the Wolverines.
When Notre Dame has the ball: The Irish found great success in last season's game by pounding it up the middle early, and they should do that again. Notre Dame has three very good running backs and an offensive line that will be facing a significantly easier task than the ones they had against the fronts of Purdue and Michigan State. A sound attack will suit the Irish well, as it won't require Everett Golson to do too much and should create some openings in the passing game when Michigan decides to blitz.
Intangible: Notre Dame has better personnel than Michigan. The Irish have played better football than the Wolverines through the season's first three weeks. They are playing at home, under the lights, with a chance to atone for last season's letdown and head into the bye week at 4-0. But Michigan and Robinson always seem to come up big when it matters most. The Irish must block that out and play their game, which is good enough to win.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Michigan 21. The Irish jump out to an early lead, withstand a late charge from Robinson and ultimately have enough to end the Wolverines' reign of terror.