Week 1 may not have turned out to be the drubbing of the Boilermakers that most Irish fans would have liked, but a win is a win as of late.
Brian Kelly got off to a successful start with his first victory donning the blue and gold, while the Weis era has completely been pushed into the back of the minds of the Irish faithful.
This week, the Irish will take on a hated foe in order to take on their longtime rivals in the Michigan Wolverines. Coming off a 30-10 victory over Connecticut (another future Irish opponent), Rich Rodriguez's squad showed some promise behind the legs of sophomore sensation Denard Robinson.
Now, these two teams on the rise will battle in order to crack the coveted Top 25. Whoever takes home the victory in the end will be well on their way in making a run at an overall successful year.
Here are the keys for an Irish victory.
Control the Trenches
Michigan dominated UConn on both the offensive and defensive line. If the Irish are going to have any chance of stopping the athletic freak in Robinson, they can't allow the Wolverine offensive line to have any push.
Ian Williams and company came up big last week in providing pressure and stopping the run consistently. By making tackles consistently as well, Notre Dame will force Robinson in handing the ball off into the hands of a lesser threat.
Michigan will field quick ends and outside linebackers that will provide some pressure on Dayne Crist. Tackles Zack Martin and Taylor Dever will need to pick up where the left off in Week 1, keeping the opponent attackers out of the backfield. If they fail to do so, it may be tough to score many points through the air.
Force the Pass
Whether you believe Michigan fans or not, Denard Robinson is not a good passer.
He may be one of the best running threats (and may be worthy of Pat White comparisons with some consistency), but by no means is he in the mold of a Vince Young. He simply cannot beat a team through the air.
Week in and week out, opponents will look to force Robinson to put the ball in the air. Until he proves his arm is a weapon, you know he will look to use his legs first almost every down.
If the Irish can minimize the rushing attack of Robinson and his running back's from the get-go, the Michigan offense will struggle mightily in finding points on that side of the football. However, if Notre Dame fails to keep the rushing attack in check, it may result in a long day for Irish fans.
Throw the Football
This may only be Crist's second career start, but he is a talent under center. He can throw the football with power and lacks only the accuracy in order to make him an elite quarterback.
In order to beat Michigan, Crist will need to look to put the ball in the air more often. Although Michael Floyd led the team in receiving yards in the opener, the Irish's best offensive weapon was not utilized as much as most would have liked—especially due to the fact that the Michigan secondary is extremely vulnerable and young.
If Crist can utilize the likes of Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, T.J. Jones, and the rest of the talented Irish receiving corps, the Irish will be in good shape.
Notre Dame 31, Michigan, 20
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