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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This week's games: Notre Dame at Michigan

Considering that these two teams have hit new historic lows the last couple of seasons, this game is absurdly attention grabbing nationally. But it warrants the attention. First, it is the undercard of a weekend that will make or break the Big 10. Wins by the Wolverines and Buckeyes would catapult the Big 10 out of pee-wee league status. We also have two coaches that are on the ropes and need to win early and often. And both teams looked they were ready to do just that after impressive debuts.

Michigan's offense is much improved from a year ago (watching Sheridan and Threet do their best Pat White impressions was always good for a laugh). And a much maligned defense underperformed relative to its talent last season, and showed signs of moving in the right direction against Western Michigan. But this Michigan team, like last year's, is too prone to mood swings, and a hostile crowd at home just exacerbated that last season. Consequently, the first 10 minutes of this game will be crucial. If Clausen-to-Floyd gets rolling early (and I think it will), it could be a very long day for the blue-and-gold with silly mistakes, schematic breakdowns, and lackluster effort. On the other side, it will come down to speed-does Notre Dame field enough speed to keep Robinson from breaking a long touchdown? If so, Notre Dame will cover its 3.5.

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