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Pregame Jitters: Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Alvin TheodoreMichigan Wolverine fans — myself included — get all bent out of shape when anyone mentions to them the fact that the Michigan State Spartans currently own a 4-game win streak over the Maize and Blue.

When someone does, every excuse comes flying out from the Wolverine supporter’s mouth such as, “Well Rich Rod was our coach!” to, “Well Rich Rod was our coach!”

That excuse worked up until last year when Brady Hoke took over the Michigan program and marched his new and improved (6-0 at the time) Wolverines into East Lansing only to have them get physically out-muscled and ultimately lost a game that was not as close as the 28-14 final score would indicate.

There’s another team currently on the short end of a non-win streak involving the Wolverines and that happens to be the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Michigan holds a 3-game win streak over the Irish and have won the last five out of six meetings.

Not being a “Golden Domer” but understanding how this college football loyalty thing works, I would imagine that the Irish fan base is somewhat upset about hearing their team “can’t beat the Wolverines” and I expect they too have a grocery list of reasons as to why things are as such.

The thing about streaks though is, eventually, usually, they all come to an end.

And to support said hypothesis, I state that prior to the recent Wolverine success over the Irish it was Notre Dame who had bragging rights during the seven year period between 1998 and 2005, as Notre Dame held the victory advantage by winning four of the six games played during that span.

Yet in the history of the rivalry Michigan owns the overall advantage in victories 23-15 and have actually won more games in Notre Dame’s house than the Irish themselves have winning 9 and losing 8.

But that’s history.

Brian Kelly and Brady Hoke

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and Michigan coach Brady Hoke exchange pregame pleasantries prior to the Wolverine vs. Irish game played in Ann Arbor in 2011 (Image courtesy of

All that really matters tonight and the only data that need be considered when formulating an honest prognostication upon the match-up to take place in South Bend under the lights should be limited specifically at most to what happened this season. And at least, what happened last game.

And this season, the Wolverines are 2-1. They lost their season opener to some team I can’t quite remember, but then won their last two games and exceeding looked better each week doing it.

Notre Dame is 3-0 for the first time since 2002 and thumped the Spartans last week on the road holding the Spartan offense to 237 total yards and 50 yards rushing.

Granted 28 positive yards gained on the ground were lost due to Spartan quarterback Andrew Maxwell’s willingness to get sacked behind the line of scrimmage. Just saying.

So what does this all mean?

It means that tonight, under the lights in South Bend, Indiana, one deserving team will keep alive their streak and dreams of a championship season. The other will be left to reevaluate their status in the landscape of college football significance in 2012.

Should the Irish manage to actually “miraculously” pullout the victory and move to 4-0 on the year then maybe all the talk of Notre Dame being “back” and quite formidable might be so after all. And coach Brian Kelly might have the additional task of managing the expectations that will undoubtedly grow exponentially around the nation post victory.

Should Michigan win, well then Brady Hoke’s team will have earned back much of the respect that was lost when the Wolverines started the season 0-1. And they will have beaten their first legitimate college football team on their home field in doing it.

But enough “coulds” and “shoulds” my jitters tell me this:

The Wolverines need to watch out for the Irish but by no means fret the challenge. They are absolutely beatable and are not as dominate as a majority of the media types are making them out to be.

In the game against the Spartans, Irish sophomore quarterback Everett Golson completed less then half the passes he attempted going 14 of 32 for 178 yards. The Irish passing game averaged 5.6 yards per completed pass and the Irish managed two touchdowns and two field goals.

I expect more of the same tonight as I fully expect the Wolverine defense to play its best game of the season. I can see the Irish scoring 20 points again but that won’t be enough to hold down Denard Robinson who will contribute two scores of his own.

Don’t be surprised if freshman Wolverine tight end Devin Funchess gets his third touchdown in as many games and the converted quarterback Devin Gardner gets his 4th in four games.

In short, I don’t believe the Irish hype.

Greg Mattison’s defense will be just fine and the Notre Dame offense will be held in check. Denard Robinson will limit his turnovers and play in control and spectacularly once again. Michigan’s non-Robinson running game will break 100 yards and in his post-game press conference Brady Hoke will speak of all the things “The Team” needs to do better in the upcoming weeks as his Wolverines prepare to begin Big Ten play on the road at Ross-Ade Stadium.

But I must confess…I felt this confident going into the Alabama game and well. But how’s that ole saying go again, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…

Hail Yeah! Go Blue!!

You can follow the Original Hokeamaniac on Twitter @Hokeamaniac.

  • Marcus Hall

    Love the optimism! Unfortunately I think our offensive line keeps this game closer than it should be. Go Blue!

    • Hokeamaniac

      Marcus, I know I should be more “concerned” but really, I’m not worried about the Notre Dame offense. Sure there defense might be tough, for a while, but I see some big plays tonight. Of course I could be way off…you know, it’s possible.

  • Larry R.

    I’m Lutheran and this is the one time I DO NOT ROOT FOR CATHOLICS!!! Touchdown Jesus better close his eyes tonight. He won’t like what he’ll see. However, as long as no one gets injured, I see four in a row for Blue.

    • Hokeamaniac

      It’s ok to feel that way Larry R. The man upstairs understands. I’ve been shocked once this year, I sure don’t want to be shocked again so early in the season. But, I agree…4 in a row! - May the Hoke be with you! © January 11th, 2011
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