Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Run D Key for Irish as Shoelace Invades South Bend

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 18, 2012

Sep 1, 2012; Dublin, IRELAND; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o (5) celebrates after Notre Dame defeated the Navy Midshipmen 50-10 at Aviva Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

The last time Notre Dame faced Michigan, the Fighting Irish didn't put up much of a fight against Denard Robinson.

Robinson averaged 14.1 yards per pass attempt with four touchdowns (albeit with three interceptions), while rushing for 108 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

Michigan won that game in a shootout, 35-31.

Robinson has his limitations throwing the ball, as he showed against Alabama in the season opener this year. Alabama succeeded in bottling him up when he took off with the ball, forcing him to go to the air 26 times while rushing 10 times. 

He finished 11-of-26 for 200 yards (7.7 yards per attempt) with one touchdown, two interceptions and 27 yards on the ground.

Notre Dame has the means to limit Robinson on the ground this season. With a player like inside linebacker Manti Te'o and a front seven that dominated against then-No. 10 Michigan State last week, the Fighting Irish have a realistic shot at their second straight signature win of the young season.

Beyond what Notre Dame did to Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell last week (23-of-45, 187 yards), what's important is that the Fighting Irish held star running back Le'Veon Bell to just 77 yards on 19 carries in the 20-3 win. This is the same Le'Veon Bell who rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan State's season opener against then-No. 24 Boise State.

Notre Dame, led by Te'o, is allowing 3.0 yards per carry through three games this season. That includes limiting Bell to 4.1 yards per carry.

Te'o played out of his mind against the Spartans, registering 12 tackles (including one tackle for loss) and two pass deflections.

Sophomore defensive end Stephon Tuitt has also been a beast, racking up 11 tackles (four tackles for loss), four sacks, three QB hurries, one forced fumble and a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown. He's been consistent throughout.

And don't forget linebacker Prince Shembo, who has 16 tackles (three tackles for loss), two sacks and four QB hurries.

Obviously, sophomore quarterback Everett Golson has to play mistake-free football like he did against Michigan State to give Notre Dame a shot, but I ultimately think the Fighting Irish will limit Robinson on the ground.

Don't be surprised if Notre Dame comes away with a victory on Saturday.


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