Michigan's passing attack vs. Notre Dame's defensive backs
Zac says: Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson showed they are no ordinary freshmen with their performances against Western Michigan. The mobility of each will force the Notre Dame defenders to choose between playing the run and sticking with pass coverage.
Matt says: Denard Robinson did not show much last week as far as his passing game is concerned. He'll need to step up more in that department in order for the two-quarterback system (is Rich Rodriguez really still planning on playing Sheridan?) to be truly successful against the Irish.
Zac says: Michigan quarterbacks represented too large a percentage of the team's running attack against Western Michigan. The Wolverines will need steady production from Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, and Michael Shaw to keep the Irish defense from keying in on the quarterback.
Matt says: Brandon Minor should return from injury for the Wolverines to give a boost to an already successful running game. Minor combines speed with an element of power to compliment fellow running back Carlos Brown and freshman speedster Denard "Shoelace" Robinson. Michigan will look to the running game to carry the load against the Fightin' Irish, who gave up a 5.3 yards-per-carry average last week. Advantage: Michigan
When Notre Dame has the ball...
Notre Dame's passing attack vs. Michigan's defensive backs
Zac says: The Michigan secondary will be tested by a pair of accomplished Notre Dame receivers. Golden Tate caught four passes for 127 yards and a touchdown against the Wolverines a year ago, while Michael Floyd is coming off a four catch, 189-yard, three-touchdown performance against Nevada. It doesn't hurt that the ball is being thrown by a third-year starter. Donovan Warren and Boubacar Cissoko were physical with the Western Michigan receivers and will need another outstanding performance to limit the Irish passing game. Advantage: Notre Dame
Matt says: Irish QB Jimmy Clausen had himself quite a day last Saturday against Nevada. Clausen missed the target only three times en route to 315 yards passing and four touchdowns. The Michigan secondary held Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller in check for much of the first half, but Hiller still managed 259 yards through the air. Notre Dame will look to attack Michigan through the air for much of the game, and if the Wolverines fail to put pressure on the passer the defensive backs will get burned all afternoon. Advantage: Notre Dame
Notre Dame's running game vs. Michigan's front seven
Zac says: Notre Dame fullback James Aldridge will not play due to injury. The Irish put up 178 yards on the ground last week, but needed 41 carries to get there. The Michigan run defense was surprisingly stout against the Broncos, allowing just 38 yards on 24 carries. Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson faced Notre Dame last year as the head coach of Syracuse. His defense held the Irish running game to 41 yards on 28 carries. Advantage: Michigan
Matt says: Michigan allowed 3.3 yards per carry against Notre Dame a year ago, and the run defense looks to be even better this season. It appears that Greg Robinson has the Wolverine defense hungry to hit and wrap up the ball carrier. Michigan won the battle in the trenches against the Broncos last week and should carry the momentum into Saturday's rivalry matchup. If the tackling remains as solid as it was last week, there's no reason Big Blue won't win this match-up. Advantage: Michigan
Zac (1-0) says: Both teams are obviously improved over a year ago. The question is by how much. Both teams are led by coaches that have seen their share of heat. The question is how will each team respond. The answer is: Final Score: Michigan 24, Notre Dame 23
Matt (1-0) says: I'm expecting a close one this week. Again, the key will be how well the Michigan defensive line performs. If Brandon Graham can get to the quarterback and Mike Martin and company can slow the running game, the secondary has a chance at containing the Notre Dame passing attack. If not, Jimmy Clausen could have a field day against the Michigan secondary. Final Score: Notre Dame 23, Michigan 17