Michigan vs. Notre Dame fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, September 1
Game Time: 7:30 pm ET
Venue: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
Michigan (0-0) vs. Notre Dame (0-0) Game Preview
For all of the doom and gloom back in 2014 about the end of one of the most interesting rivalries in college football, the hiatus didn’t last that long.
It was a 31-0 Notre Dame walk-though the last time they met – and now the two bluest of bluebloods start out the season in what should be the most scrutinized game of Week One.
What if Michigan loses this?
Jim Harbaugh has been under fire all offseason for still being unable to beat Ohio State, having issues with Michigan State, and stained by the meltdown against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, making Michigan the only Big Ten team to lose its bowl game.
With road games at Northwestern, Michigan State and Ohio State left to go, and home dates against Wisconsin and Penn State, a loss to the Irish would be devastating. But, of course, Michigan can lose and still win the Big Ten title. There’s still something big to play for.
If Notre Dame loses, there’s no margin for error the rest of the way if it has any hopes of being in the College Football Playoff mix.
The schedule isn’t all that brutal, but there are still dates at USC, Virginia Tech and Northwestern, and home games with Stanford and Florida State are hardly layups.
But forget about what’s next for a moment. It’s Michigan vs. Notre Dame again. Yay.
One Reason Why Michigan Will Win
Can Notre Dame throw the ball?
Ian Book can throw. He was the hero of the Citrus Bowl win over LSU, but Brandon Wimbush is the better option for the Irish offense.
The problem is that Wimbush isn’t a consistent enough passer. He’s a devastating runner and the right fit for what offensive coordinator Chip Long wants to do, but to beat Michigan, he’s going to have to open it up, or else Book will come in.
The Notre Dame passing game was 101st in the nation in efficiency and 102nd overall, and now it’s without top target Equanimeious St. Brown. However, the bigger issue is the Michigan defense.
The Wolverines were No. 1 in the nation in pass D, and they now get nine starters back.
Notre Dame is mostly a running team, but the Wolverines are going to be too stout up front – the Irish O won’t go off against this group. This might be a bit more of a grind than expected, and the Irish have to somehow do that without Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlichey around to pave the way.
One Reason Why Notre Dame Will Win
The Irish can play a little bit of defense, too.
There are some big losses, but Te’von Coney is a big-time tackler in the linebacking corps, Drue Tranquill is an athletic safety who’ll work more as a linebacker, and the secondary should be a big plus around All-America talent Julian Love at corner.
Michigan’s offense should be better, but after an ugly year, it has to prove it can get the job done.
Yeah, getting Shea Patterson from Ole Miss should help the quarterback situation, but as good he was and will be, he throws interceptions. This should be a momentum game with field position and key opportunities at a premium. The Irish defense should be able to make them happen.
What’s Going To Happen
Michigan is about to look like a team that’s going to come up with a big season.
Notre Dame has too many big replacements on the defensive side and on the offensive line, but the talent is there to pull this off at home is the Wolverine O starts screwing up.
But the Michigan defense is going to be a rock throughout, the time to prepare for the Chip Long running game will matter, and the offense will be just effective enough – even in the red zone; a problem last year – to get out with a very good, very effective, impressive win.
And Harbaugh will have a big win to build on.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Michigan 26, Notre Dame 16
Line: Notre Dame -1, o/u: 47
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3.5
Must See Rating: 5
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