Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Predicting Denard Robinson's Performance Against Irish

John Dorn@JSDorn6Correspondent IIISeptember 19, 2012

Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Predicting Denard Robinson's Performance Against Irish

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    Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson is no stranger to the Big Blue-Fighting Irish rivalry.

    In just his second career start with Michigan in his sophomore season, Robinson rushed for the game-winning touchdown with 27 seconds left on the clock, in a game where he combined for 502 yards and three touchdowns.

    Last season, Robinson's Wolverines appeared destined for its first loss of the year, when they were trailing 24-7 entering the final quarter. After three unanswered Michigan touchdowns, however, they found themselves ahead 28-24 with just over a minute to play. Notre Dame managed to take the lead with 30 seconds remaining, but Shoelace led his squad 80 yards to score the game winning touchdown with two seconds left on the clock. Michigan won 35-31.

    In Robinson's second go-around against the Fighting Irish, he torched them for 108 yards on the ground and 338 yards passing, to go along with four scores.

    This Saturday marks the 40th chapter in the storied rivalry between the two schools with thick football tradition. It will be the first meeting where both teams are nationally ranked since 2005, and with playmaker Denard Robinson at no shortage of experience in 2012, we're in for a fun performance to watch. 

    Let's break down what we can expect from Shoelace in his final matchup against the Fighting Irish.

Over 300 Passing Yards

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    In Denard Robinson's first bout with Notre Dame, he amassed 244 passing yards on 24 completions, followed by 338 yards on only 11 completed passes in last year's matchup.

    So far this season, Shoelace has yet to eclipse 300 passing yards in a game, but has steadily increased his total in each game this season, from 200 against Alabama, to 208 versus Air Force, and to 291 against UMass last weekend.

    We can expect Robinson's progression to continue Saturday, as he'll likely hurl over 300 yards on Notre Dame's yet-to-be-damaged defense. 

    The Irish have allowed only 30 points in three contests this season, but they haven't seen a quarterback of Robinson's caliber since, well, the last time they played him.

    Robinson won't want to go out a loser against the Irish in his senior season, and it'll take more than a sound rushing game to come out victorious on Saturday.

A Diminished Number of Rushing Attempts

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    With Fitzgerald Toussaint in the lineup Saturday for the Wolverines, Denard Robinson will have a viable teammate to handle some of the rushing duties.

    In Robinson's previous two matchups against Notre Dame, he's carried the ball a total 44 times, with his teammates combining for just 23 carries in those games. Fitzgerald Toussaint looks to alter this trend Saturday.

    After sitting out of Michigan's opening game against Alabama this season due to suspension, Toussaint returned the following week and showed signs of rust. Last week though, he appeared to have regained his form, dashing for 85 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Robinson ran the ball just 10 times.

    With Toussaint looking more like himself with each down he plays, expect the 1,000-yard back of a year ago to garner the majority of carries against Notre Dame. 

    This isn't to say Robinson won't show the same production on the ground—he still rushed for 108 yards on those 10 carries last week. Toussaint's reemergence as a feature back in the offense will help spell Shoelace, and give him another weapon in his arsenal.

At Least Four Total Touchdowns

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    In Denard Robinson's two career games against Notre Dame, he's been responsible for putting six points on the board eight times.

    In his last two contests thus far in 2012, he's put up four touchdowns in each. Shoelace even managed to score the ball twice against Alabama's third-in-the-nation defense. Expect big numbers from Robinson Saturday in South Bend.

    After losing stopper Jamoris Slaughter for the season after tearing an achilles during last week's 20-3 win over Michigan State, Notre Dame will, as they have historically, have trouble containing the versatile shotcaller. 

    Tallying four scores against the nation's eight-best defense won't be an easy task, but if any Irish opponent is up for the task, it's No. 16.

Leading a Game-Winning Fourth Quarter Drive

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    This matchup of two top-25 teams has the potential to be another instant-classic, and that's exactly what to expect.

    Each of the last three games between the two schools has come down to the last drive, with the Wolverines pulling ahead with the victory in all three.

    Denard Robinson is no rookie to the spotlight and by his senior Wolverine season, knows exactly how to handle the two-minute drill almost on his own.

    Be sure to tune in Saturday night at 7:30, to witness Robinson lead Big Blue to victory in the final seconds of this historic rivalry matchup.