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If Michigan Struggled with Akron, What Does That Say About Notre Dame?

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 14: Fitzgerald Toussaint #28 of the Michigan Wolverines tries to outrun the tackle of C.J. James #9 of the Akron Zips during the first quarter at Michigan Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Randy ChambersAnalyst ISeptember 14, 2013

Michigan barely avoided another historic upset for the program, barely squeaking by Akron 28-24 in a game that came down to the final seconds. The game had a similar feeling as their 2007 meeting against Appalachian State, only that this time the Wolverines somehow came out on the winning side.

But what does this say about Notre Dame, a team that just lost to Michigan 41-30 last weekend?

Michigan nearly lost to a team that has won one game each year since 2009, and Notre Dame lost by 11 points to Michigan. This must mean that the Irish are once again overrated, right?

Let's stop the nonsense right now.

Regardless of how talented a team may be or where they're ranked, anybody can lose on Saturday. We witnessed it in Week 1, when eight FCS programs beat FBS schools and Towson hung with LSU last year. Michigan experienced it as well six years ago.

Although crippling upsets rarely happen to elite college football powerhouses, they can happen if a team isn't prepared or focused.

The main statistic that stands out from Michigan's last two games is turnovers. The Irish coughed up the ball two times in the loss to the Wolverines, while Michigan turned the ball over four times today. It's tough to win games when you lose the turnover battle, no matter who is playing. Give the opponent chances to capitalize on your mistakes and you'll be in for a dogfight.

That's what happened today with Michigan.

Four turnovers, five penalties, three of 10 on third down attempts and a bunch of unfocused players. Michigan was coming off a big win, was at home and playing a lousy team that couldn't fight its way out of a wet paper bag. Add all that up and you have the makings of a trap game.

Give Akron credit for the fight, but Michigan simply wasn't prepared or focused for this game. It can be tough to find motivation for every game, especially for a team that lost to UCF and barely beat James Madison.

None of this has to do with Notre Dame. The Irish went into the Big House and played a solid game for four quarters. It was the mistakes and poor execution down the stretch that sealed their fate. Still, they were able to hold tight and trade body blows until the final minutes when the Wolverines pulled away for good.

Sometimes it takes a game like this for a team to regain focus and to realize that an upset could take place if every game isn't played like it's the last on the schedule. It doesn't mean Michigan isn't as good as you once thought or that Notre Dame is still overrated and living off success from 20-plus years ago.

Seriously, if Michigan and Akron were to play 10 more times, Michigan would likely win nine of those contests by at least four touchdowns.

It's a lesson learned for the Wolverines, and they should bounce back next week against Connecticut.

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