Tomorrow afternoon the Michigan Wolverines will travel to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Both teams have a lot to prove, and it may be a must-win for both as well. The Irish look to exact revenge on Michigan for their late comeback victory last year in Ann Arbor. This year, Notre Dame will have home-field advantage, and will look to earn bragging rights for the next year. With all the hype (maybe not from national media, but at least from the two fan bases), what can we expect this week?
Robinson Will Have to Shine Again, and Maybe Then Some
Last week's victory over UConn showed that Michigan may very well be on the road to returning to relevance on the back of new starting QB Denard "Shoelace Robinson." Robinson threw for 186 yards last week, and also ran for 197 yards, setting a school record. With both schools running a spread offense, Robinson will have to find new ways to produce on offense. He'll have to utilize his receivers far more, and with WR Roy Roundtree expected to play this week, he and Darryl Stonum will probably see some more action. Look for RBs Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith to see more carries as well.
Can Notre Dame Receiving Corps Exploit the Michigan Secondary?
One of the biggest problems facing the Wolverines coming into 2010 was its secondary. No, they're certainly not bad, but they're young and inexperienced. They may be shaky this week, being on the road against a hostile opposing fanbase. The Irish may use the opportunity to put its own receivers to work and get points on the board. Look for QB Dayne Crist to go to Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, and TJ Jones early to get the Irish going.
Who Wants It More?
As I said at the top of the article, both of these teams need a win this week. It's a rivalry, so of course there will be a lot of hate on both sides. For Michigan, Rich Rodriguez will need to keep winning before he can feel secure in his job. Last week's victory certainly helped, but he's got a long way to go. For Notre Dame, Brian Kelly looks to revive the ailing Fighting Irish, who look to have a winning season after the turmoil of the Charlie Weis era. Kelly will have to be successful, because after a string of bad coaches, I don't know how much more the Irish can take.