Notre Dame Football: 5 Predictions For The Michigan Game

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 06: Michigan Wolverine players gather during warm-ups before a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 6, 2014 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Michigan 31-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 06: Michigan Wolverine players gather during warm-ups before a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 6, 2014 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Michigan 31-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame Football’s 2018 season kicks off against Michigan in exactly 50 days on September 1st. Here are five predictions that I see happening when the rivalry renews this fall.

Notre Dame vs Michigan. One of my favorite rivalries and one of the best in all of college football. Two of the most recognized college football programs are facing off for the first time since 2014, when the Irish embarrassed Michigan 31-0. Building off last year’s 10-win season and the expectations for this season, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a Notre Dame football season opener.

With just 50 days separating the Irish from taking the field for their 2018 campaign, it’s hard not to constantly think about this first game. We’ve posted plenty of Michigan content recently, dissecting them as an opponent and analyzing the importance of the Week 1 match-up.

I could talk all day about scenarios and “what-ifs,” but I’ll stick to just five predictions I can see happening come September 1st.

Notre Dame rushes for more yards than their rushing yards/game average from last season (269).

This one might be a little bold, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Irish ground and pound for over 270 yards vs. Michigan. The Wolverines had a Top-20 rush defense last season and return defensive lineman Rashan Gary, but lost All-American defensive tackle Maurice Hurst.  My confidence in the Irish offensive line and running back committee outweighs my skepticism that Michigan will have the talent to stop the run.

It will certainly hurt not having Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey, but there’s only so much you can use them as a scapegoat for any noticeable dip in offensive line or running game production.

The Irish return four contributors from the 2017 offensive line and have the legs of Dexter Williams, Tony Jones Jr, and Jafar Armstrong to lean on all game. Whoever is taking snaps for the Irish offense — either Wimbush or Book — will add their own play-making abilities on the ground as well.

I expect Notre Dame to come out and establish the ground game early. That will take pressure off whoever the quarterback is and put the game on the shoulders of the front five and the explosive backfield.

If they can wear Michigan down over four quarters on the ground, the Irish should make me look good with this prediction.

Notre Dame holds Michigan to under 300 yards of total offense.

It’s not a secret Michigan struggled on offense last year. Averaging 350 yards per game and just a meer 171 yards per game through the air, Michigan had the 96th ranked offense in the country.

I’m not predicting a shutout, but this year’s Irish defense is going to be much improved from last year and should keep the Wolverines at bay all night.

Notre Dame returns almost every starter on defense this year and have playmakers at every level of the defense. I expect the energy of this defense to be on another level and be a difference-maker all night.

Miles Boykin scores two touchdowns.

Last month, our writers made some bold predictions for the 2018 season, and two of those hot takes involved Miles Boykin having a breakout season. I guess I’ll jump on that bandwagon, as Boykin has three total touchdowns in his career at Notre Dame.

At 6-4, Boykin is a large target and one that can be a mismatch in the redzone.

With 6-4 Chase Claypool opposite of him and 6-5 Alize Mack at tight end, Michigan will have to pick their poison. We’ve seen what Boykin can do when the ball is in the air (sorry, LSU), so as long as Wimbush or Book can get the ball in his general area, I see him having a career night.

Notre Dame will have a huge 4th-down stop early in the game.

This is a huge game for both programs. It is going to be important to establish momentum early, especially for Michigan on the road. I don’t think it is too far-fetched to see Harbaugh keep his offense on the field in a 4th-and-short situation early in the game.

Convert and you keep your offense rolling, quiet the crowd, and gain some confidence. That’s why we never punt in Madden, right?

Unfortunately for Harbaugh and the Wolverines, Notre Dame will come up with a big stop that will do the opposite of everything they intended to do. If this actually happens, it could be looked back on as a game-changing play. Momentum is everything in these types of games, and a huge 4th down stop could be an early turning point for the Irish.

The Irish win 31-17.

I can’t make all these predictions without a score prediction. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see this game fairly close at halftime, as both schools try to find their feet and get going offensively.

Fortunately, the Irish pull away in the second half with their running game and controlling the time of possession.

No more embarrassing or heart-breaking losses to big opponents in primetime. That has been a huge knock on Brian Kelly ever since he’s been in South Bend, and a win will be a great addition to his Irish resume.

The Irish have an incredibly tough schedule, so winning 11 straight after dropping game 1 to Michigan is very unlikely. Kicking off the season with a victory will be a great confidence booster for this team and a huge win for Brian Kelly.

In a perfect world, all five of these predictions come true. While it is possible, it is very unlikely. It’ll be fun to come back to this on September 2nd and see how everything played out.

Next: Know Your Enemy: Michigan

Think some of these predictions are ridiculous? Have any of your own? Comment and let me know what you think!