Michigan @ Notre Dame Preview

LudaChristian at Victors ValiantCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2008

(Originally posted at victorsvaliant.blogspot.com)

Michigan brings their fresh new fancypants (read: the RichRod Era) into South Bend for the first time this Saturday, marking the 36th meeting between the two winningest programs in the college game (Michigan leads the series 20-14-1). RichRod is still frustrated with his lack of playmakers and was hoping to have a quarterback entrenched with the first-team offense going into the Notre Dame game, but has said he still plans to rotate QBs Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. Adding to the offensive line’s troubles is an elbow injury to starting OT Mark Ortmann, suffered last week in the Miami (Ohio) game.

But at least last weekend ended in a win, RichRod's first at Michigan. Offensively, it was better than the loss to Utah, but the narrow 16-6 margin just further highlighted Michigan’s room for improvement.

Notre Lame doesn't have much room to talk barely overcoming San Diego State 21-13 last week, but for the Irish, any victory was an encouraging sign coming off a 3-9 bust of a year. At least that was the message of coach Charlie "Soft Batch" Weis to his players after the game.

Jimmah Clausen looked better in his sophomore debut, completing 21-of-34 passes for 237 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He had plenty of zip on his passes, and the two fourth-quarter TD drives had to be encouraging for the ND faithful. Still, Notre Dame's offense isn't nearly good enough to regularly overcome the kind of turnovers it had against San Diego State. The Irish lost the ball four times, including twice in the Aztecs' red zone -- one on a Robert Hughes fumble and one on a Clausen interception in the endzone.

Only time will tell which rebuilding program (Weis still says they're "rebuilding" after 4 years) will come out on top & add to the large pile of all-time wins.

Series Record: Michigan leads 20-14-1
Michigan Points: 719
Notre Dame Points: 544
Record at Ann Arbor: Michigan leads 11-7
At Michigan Stadium: Series tied 7-6
Record at Notre Dame: Michigan leads 8-7-1
At Notre Dame Stadium: ND leads 7-5-1
Record at Neutral Site: Michigan leads 1-0
Games decided by 3 Points or Less: ND leads 4-2-1
Games decided by 7 Points or Less: ND leads 9-7-1
Longest Michigan Winning Streak: 8 (1887-1908)
Current Michigan Streak: Won 2
Last 10 Games: U-M leads 6-4
Biggest Michigan Win: 38-0 (2003 and 2007)
Biggest Michigan Loss: 35-12 (1943)
Last Michigan Home Win: 2007 (last game)
Last Michigan Road Win: 2006 (last game)
Last Notre Dame Home Win: 2004 (ND is 0-1 since)
Last Notre Dame Road Win: 2005 (ND is 0-1 since)


* Junior LB Obi Ezeh recovered a fumble, giving him turnovers in each of the first two games. Ezeh, who finished with five tackles, intercepted a pass against Utah in the opener.

* RB Brandon Minor's only carry of the game was a 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

* He admitted he was nervous, but the freshman RB Sam McGuffie totaled 106 yards on 20 touches.

* Freshman Martavious Odoms recorded a 50-yard pass reception, marking the team's longest play from scrimmage of the season. The reception was a career-long for Odoms.


* RB Kevin Grady returned last week following his one-game suspension for an offseason drunken-driving arrest. He carried three times for six yards.

* RB Brandon Minor played sparingly while recuperating from a wrist injury. OL Mark Ortmann left the game with an elbow injury and was replaced by former walk-on Bryant Nowicki.

* WR Greg Mathews did not play while nursing an ankle injury, but he expects to be back for Notre Dame this week. RB Michael Shaw left the game with an injured groin.

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Here's hoping Meechigan can make the Chuck Wagon eat his words (not that he'd mind) and take another step toward a bowl game. Valiant Prediction: UM-17, ND-10.