Aug 31, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish kneel to pray in the end zone before the game against the Temple Owls at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Football: Predictions- Notre Dame @ Michigan

Aug 31, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame running back Amir Carlisle (3) runs with the ball against the Temple Owls at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Notre Dame Football

Michigan Wolverines

September 7, 2013 8:00 P.M. ET

TV: ABC

Last Meeting (2012): Michigan 6-Notre Dame 13

Line (as of 3:00 p.m. on 9/6): Michigan (-4.0)

Lead Editor, Andrew Hall: Notre Dame 21-Michigan 24

Staff Writer, Nick Combs: Notre Dame 27-Michigan 24

Staff Writer, Tim Colin: Notre Dame 28-Michigan 14

Podcast/Contributor, Brett Arney: Notre Dame 21-Michigan 31

From Staff Writer, Michael James:

When attempting to analyze the strengths/weaknesses of Michigan’s offense the season opener against CMU seems a bit ineffective because Michigan’s talent on offense and defense simply overwhelmed CMU. (Moreover Gardner and most of the starters were pulled midway through the 3rd quarter.)   However, the game proved one avoidable fact: Michigan will go as far as Devon Gardner takes them.  Gardner’s ability to make plays with his feet and his arm make him a dangerous combination especially in the B1G conference.  Gardner’s pocket passing needs to improve for Michigan to reach the next level, but I expect Brady Hoke and Co to continue their emphasis on throwing downfield and using Gardner’s arm and legs to confuse defenses and win games.

After Notre Dame struggled to stop the scrambling of Temple’s young quarterback, the last thing Irish fans want to hear about is the running ability of Devon Gardner.  But all is not lost.  Notre Dame can dominate the young interior of Michigan’s offensive line which will limit the rushing game and keep Gardner in the pocket.  Michigan’s receivers, although experienced, may have difficulty separating against Notre Dame’s cornerbacks which could provide the defensive front with enough to time to pressure Gardner.  Expect Bob Diaco to call a conservative game that uses a simple, straight-forward pass rush, mixed with a zone coverage.  If Notre Dame can contain Gardner in the pocket and force him into bad reads, they could stall Michigan’s offense and turn the game in Irish’s favor.

From Staff Writer, Tim Colin

While Michigan’s pass rush needs to improve from last year, they still finished the 2012 season ranked 13th in total defense.  With arguably the Big Ten’s best defense last season, the Irish have a much tougher test to pass this weekend if they plan to start the season 2-0.

The Wolverines have improved up front and redshirt freshman, Ronnie Stanley faces his first big challenge under the light in Ann Arbor. The rest of the Irish offensive line leaves much less to be pondered with the talent and depth of guards Christian Lombard and Chris Watt along with tackle, Zach Martin protecting Rees’ blind side. While the Irish boast talent depth in the trenches, so does Michigan; I expect the Irish to be challenged here but ultimately hold strong and keep Tommy clean, for the most part. The game will be won or lost at the line of scrimmage.

The Michigan linebackers in where the Irish have the biggest advantage.  Nobody on Michigan’s defense can cover Troy Nicklas one on one, period. Chuck Martin and Brian Kelly have to incorporate him into the offense this weekend and take advantage of the matchups. Along with Nicklas, the threat of the Irish running backs is a force to be reckoned with; and while the defensive line of Michigan is improved, they are not proven against a high level running game. Look for Greg Bryant to get a chance this weekend to establish a running game between the tackles.

The secondary is where Michigan has a slight advantage over the Irish.  With Thomas Gordon and Jarrod Wilson patrolling the back end of the defense, the deep balls to Daniels and Jones will be tougher to come by.  The speed of the secondary and linebackers will force Rees to move in the pocket, make accurate reads and even more accurate throws.

Editor’s Note: This is a game that Notre Dame should win. Top to bottom Notre Dame has more talent than Michigan. Yesterday, ESPN’s Todd McShay said that Notre Dame had at least 8 players who would be drafted in the first 5 rounds of the NFL Draft. He also stated that they had way more than Michigan. But, Devon Gardner is the X-Factor. The Night Game is another. Michigan is not the better team overall. If this was played at Notre Dame, this would be an Irish victory. If it was played on a neutral field, the Irish would win as well. But, this is the perfect storm for Michigan. 

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