By Ian Palmer
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a tough battle on their hands this weekend as they’re taking on the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, September 6. This hugely-anticipated showdown will be the last time these two rivals meet for quite some time.
bet365’s lines have Michigan (+4.5) at 10/11 and Notre Dame (-4.5) at 10/11
The over is 54.5 at 10/11 with the under of 54.5 at 10/11
Michigan hammered the Appalachian State Mountaineers 52-14 in their opening game last weekend and that game bodes well for Doug Nussmeier, the team’s new offensive coordinator. The Wolverines gained 560 yards in week one with 350 of them coming on the ground. The Michigan offensive line is still strong and experienced even though last year’s two starting offensive tackles have departed. De’Veon Smith and Derrick Green, a pair of sophomore running backs, combined for 285 yards last week on just 23 carries.
Quarterback Devin Gardner was also on his game by going 13 for 14 in passing, gaining 173 yards and throwing for three touchdowns. All three of the touchdown passes were caught by junior Devin Funchess who caught seven catches for a total of 95 yards. In last year’s game against Notre Dame, which Michigan won 41-30, Gardner threw four touchdown passes, rushed for another TD and gained his team 376 total yards.
Notre Dame lost some key linemen in the offseason and the team could struggle against the Wolverines offense since it’s efficient in the air and on the ground. They managed to get by Rice in the season opener 48-17 though even if they were missing five suspended players including corner KeiVarae Russell and DaVaris Daniels. These players have been sidelined because of an investigation into academic irregularity.
Quarterback Everett Golson started against Rice after serving a season-long academic suspension. He threw for two touchdowns and 295 yards as well as rushing for three touchdowns on 41 yards. Golson was helped out by Notre Dame’s running-back foursome of Tarean Folston, Greg Bryant, Cam McDaniel and Malik Zaire. This quartet earned 240 rushing yards out of the 281-yard total. The suspended players may be eligible to suit up against Michigan, but if they don’t it means Golson and the rest of the offense will need to have another big game, especially since the defense is a little vulnerable,
Notre Dame may be fielding a slightly weaker team, but they’re still going to be tough to beat at home where they’ve gone 17-3 in their past 20 outings on home turf. When it comes to the ATS though, they’re only 8-11-1. This should be a close matchup with both quarterbacks capable of turning a game around.