Michigan Football: Keys to Wolverines Taking Down Notre Dame

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent ISeptember 19, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines looks for yards on a fourth quarter run while playing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Stadium on September 10, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 35-31.(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Michigan is going to need Denard Robinson to leave Notre Dame defenders befuddled and strewn across Notre Dame Stadium if it wants to take down the Irish in its upcoming showdown. 

The Wolverines have owned this matchup lately, having won three straight, including last year's 35-31 thriller.

However, that one took a serious comeback by Michigan to pull it off. It trailed 24-7 entering the fourth quarter. 

This Notre Dame team is playing far better than it was a year ago, and that game was in Michigan. The Wolverines will be well-served to not have to wage a fourth-quarter comeback in the raucous Notre Dame stadium. 

Here are three things they need to do to come out victorious. 


Get Denard's Arm Going Early

Denard Robinson shredded the Notre Dame defense last year. He finished with 338 passing yards and 108 rushing yards.

However, it was not until the fourth quarter that he really started putting up big numbers. 

He hit for seven of his 11 completions, accounting for 192 passing yards.

That passing success was the key. Notre Dame was crowding the line of scrimmage, and it wasn't until Robinson began hitting some passes that things opened up. 

Michigan needs to put some high-percentage pass plays in early to get Denard going and spread out the defense. 


Strong Offensive Line Showing

It isn't going to matter what kind of plays Michigan runs early if the offensive line doesn't come out ready to maul. 

The front five have shown improvement from the debacle against Alabama, but Air Force and Massachusetts, their last two opponents, don't offer the same kind of challenges that the Irish are going to bring. 

Notre Dame is allowing just 3.0 yards per carry this season, and it already has 11 sacks in its three games—all but one of which have been from the front seven. 

The Wolverines have their work cut out for them, and if they have a showing anywhere near as bad as they did in the opener against the Crimson Tide, they'll have no shot in this game. 


Do Not Lose the Turnover Battle

Turnovers are always a key stat. They are especially so for the Wolverines in this one, as they will be on the road and facing an excellent defense. 

The stats don't paint a pretty picture. Michigan is minus-three in turnover margin while Notre Dame is plus-five. 

Losing the turnover battle would be more than Michigan could overcome.