Tomorrow will be Michigan's third try this year to achieve its first win of the season. At 0-2 for the first time since 1998, where back to back losses to Syracuse and Notre Dame buried the start of the season, Michigan is still looking for the means to achieve that first win. Injuries across the offensive line, to Mike Hart, and Chad Henne have made things even harder for an offense that scored 7 points last week. Even though the points weren't there against Oregon the offense has shown signs of life, which is more than anyone can say for the defense. Missed tackles, poor angles, mental mistakes. Going into the season it was thought the offense would have to cover for the defense. So far it hasn't.
Notre Dame comes in 0-2 as well. The Irish sport a surprisingly steady defense and an offense that ranks dead last in college football. The Irish haven't scored an offensive touchdown. They've played three different quarterbacks before installing Jimmy Clausen as the starter. The Offensive line has been a disaster. The Irish possess talent on the wings, but it's young, inexperienced, and still learning the playbook. The same can be said at running back. While it wasn't expected to play out this way, the Notre Dame defense will have to carry the offense. Even though the defense has scored Notre Dame's only touchdown, they haven't been able to lead Notre Dame to a win.
So, two traditional powers, winless, clueless, searching for their identities, meet on Saturday. One offensively challenged in every way. One defensively challenged in every way. So who wins?
Michigan. And here's why.
- I'm an eternal optimist.
- Notre Dame's offensive line has been a bigger disaster than Michigan's. The Irish have a grand total of -8 rushing yards. They also gave up 6 sacks and approximately five million hits on Clausen against PSU.
- Michigan racked up over 300 yards in offense before the first half was over. If it wasn't for the offense shooting itself in the foot, they would've at least made the game competitive. At some point the mental mistakes have to stop. And when they do the points will start to add up.
- Notre Dame's defense has been good, but they're still giving up heaps `o rushing yards. Austin Scott went for 116 and 2 TDs. Tashard Choice ran for 196 yards and 2 TDs. So, the game plan is simple. Run the goddamn ball!
- Clausen. He's going to be a very good quarterback. Clausen wasn't rattled when the Lions spent an evening trying to stuff his head into his rectum. But he's still a young quarterback, so Notre Dame will be playing with a limited playbook. He'll toss an interception or two, not because he's a bad QB, but because he's a young QB. He'll also guide Notre Dame to a couple of scores.
- Mike Hart won't let this team lose three straight. Oh wait. They've lost four straight. I mean three straight this year. Hart said screw it, and guaranteed a victory. Am I a fan of doing that? No. But it does speak to the fact that this game is a must win game. The added pressure to win doesn't exist. This team is 0-2 and is 0-2 in embarrassing fashion. No matter what Hart said doesn't matter when the whistle blows, but it will serve as added motivation to him and his teammates during practice this week. They know it's hanging out there. They know they're in the hole. They know they have to win. Hart's guarantee reminds these guys, every day, of the importance of the game and what is still left to be played. And don't think for a second he isn't riding everyone on that team like a worn out pony, reminding them of that.
- The defense has to get better at some point. Right?
- With Mallett in you can expect Michigan's running game to dominate the play calling. This is a good thing. If Hart is healthy, he should go for 160 and a couple of touchdowns.
- We really, really need this game.
- Michigan has a nasty habit of making half-assed offenses look world beating. Not this year per se, but look back over the past few years and look at losses: Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin for example.
- The defense, the defense, the defense. This group has been terrible and I don't think they're magically going to turn into Voltron during this week's practice. The way they've played it's been more like Princes Allura is in charge of guarding the castle.
- Notre Dame has been vulnerable to blitzes. Michigan has shown itself to be incredibly inept at doing this. If you give a quarterback time and space, no matter how young he is, you're going to get burned. If Michigan's press coverage against Oregon or App State is any indication of what to expect against Notre Dame, Clausen could have a monster day.
- Notre Dame is loaded at tailback. Michigan can't stop anyone from running for 100 plus. There's always the chance Michigan's inability to control the line will allow the Domers to post some decent numbers.
- Mallett is a freshman. He looked okay, but not great. If he tries to force throws, Michigan's offense could be in trouble.
Someone's gotta win right?
I'm a homer. Michigan takes it.