Irish Blog Gathering 2013: Michigan Week

Notre Dame vs. Michigan
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Michigan Wolverines line up at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 13-6. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

UHND has joined up with give other Notre Dame bloggers for the 2013 Irish Blog Gathering.   Organized by Subway Domer, the group consists of some of, if not all of, the best Notre Dame bloggers exchanging questions each week about our Fighting Irish.  The group includes Her Loyal Sons,Inside the IrishSubway DomerND NationNDSportsBlogger, and yours truly.

Since this is our first week joining the group, here is a real quick breakdown of what happens.  Each week Subway Domer pairs up the different blogs and we each send questions to a fellow blogger and receive questions from another.  We all answer them and then post the answers to the questions we posed on our blogs and link out to everyone else’s respective posts.

This week we have the following Q&A partners: (all posts will be linked as they are published)

1) Brian Kelly said on Sunday that Notre Dame-Michigan is not a historic rivalry.  Do you agree with his statements and in light of the series coming to an end (at least for now) what are your thoughts on where Michigan stands in terms of Notre Dame’s traditional rivalries. 

I’m guessing this question is going to be on every IBG entry this week, as I asked the same one. I completely agree with the statement and I wish BK hadn’t back-tracked on it. Not only is Michigan not a historical rivalry, it is completely Michigan’s fault that it is not.

For all the bleating from the Wolverine faithful about how we’re somehow showing disrespect to the series, the fact of the matter is we’ve only played 40+ times. Compared to series like USC and Navy and even Purdue and Michigan State, that’s not long enough to qualify. Sure, there have been some great game in the series, and given the high historical rankings both programs enjoy, it’s a natural game to play. But other than those rankings, these two programs have nothing in common, especially when it comes to academics.

These complaints out of Ann Arbor certainly represent a sea change on the Wolverines’ part. It wasn’t so long ago that Bo and Carr were pooh-poohing the ND game and what it allegedly “meant” to Michigan. Now all of a sudden it’s a hallowed spectacle of sport that must be maintained at all costs. I guess that’s what happens when you’re having trouble selling 105k tickets to tilts against mighty Akron. Hard to get the Go Blue club to pony up ducats when all you’re offering is a steady diet of MAC Snacks, dying rust-belt programs, and Ohio State.

If Michigan wants to get mad at anyone for the series going away, they need to look in a mirror. Thanks to the bigoted stances of the Fielding Yosts and Fritz Crislers of the world, ND isn’t in the B1G (and thank God for that). So if they’ve got a problem with that, get a séance going and chat with the true architects of the problem.

2) Coming out of week one, what is the one thing you saw from Notre Dame against Temple that has you the most optimistic heading into this weekend? And what has you the most concerned?

I’m most optimistic about the offensive line. Taking into account the usual “it was Temple” caveat, they seemed to play very cohesively and did a good job both opening holes and in pass protection. The depth of that unit seems to get better every year, and since my philosophy always has been that you’re only going as far as your line will take you, I’m very interested to see if they can continue the upward trajectory against a better defense.

My biggest area of concern is on the other side of the ball. The defensive line didn’t show me much, especially considering “it was Temple”. I was excited to see what Sheldon Day was going to do last Saturday, but he didn’t seem to do a hell of a lot. If the DL can’t demand multiple blockers outside of Nix, ND is going to have problems. I know some have suggested the defense was kept “vanilla” to hide things from Michigan and the heat of the day may have had an effect. I don’t necessarily buy those explanations, but we’ll see what happens when we get another data point this Saturday.

3) Notre Dame is 1-6 in its last 7 trips to Michigan Stadium dating back to 1997.  Terrible coaching aside, why has Notre Dame struggled so much on the road against the Wolverines and what must they do this weekend to reverse that trend and exorcise the demons of the debacle in 2011?

If we’re leaving out terrible coaching, I don’t have much to go on to answer this question because I believe it’s been a prime culprit. But outside of that, I believe it’s because Michigan is a difficult place to win to begin with. They always recruit well, even when they’re down, and if you play enough games at a top-25 program’s stadium, you’re going to lose your fair share.

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  1. I’m really trying to understand why a lot of pundits are calling for a Michigan blow-out win. Even when one team is up and the other down, it’s rarely a blow-out. Nevermind when they are fairly even.

    In my mind, I don’t see Michigan as an equal to ND this year. I don’t think their defense is as stout, QB as tested, OL as good nor do they have a crowded house of talented RB’s. Sure, they get a bump because it’s a home game.

    I see it as a close game until the late 3rd or early 4th quarter. I’d predict ND 31 UM 20

    1. I figure we are good for a 21 – 17 win. I was going to say 24 – 21, but then I would be assuming we are going to kick a field goal. For us to get handled, it would mean that we vastly underestimated what Teo was to this team. Its possible, he was legendary, but what remains seems pretty formidable. It is hard to imagine Nix not being extremely disruptive with their 280 lb. when soaking wet center. They may have to triple team him.

      1. They could triple team him, but then again, the game is in Ann Arbor so they will probably just hold him like they usually do.

  2. RIP Walter P. Brown.

    He’ll be rooting on the Irish from the best seat in the real Big House, the one the belongs to God!

  3. “Brian Kelly said on Sunday that Notre Dame-Michigan is not a historic rivalry. Do you agree with his statements and in light of the series coming to an end (at least for now) what are your thoughts on where Michigan stands in terms of Notre Dame’s traditional rivalries?”


    I’ve watched ND since 1960-61. I visited the campus in the summer of 1964. I was nine years old then along with my late brother Walter P. Brown was 6.

    Rivals to Notre Dame (from my old school point of view include):
    1. Purdue
    2. U.S.C. (Southern Cal)
    3. Michigan State
    4. ARMY

    ND’s going to kill MICHIGAN SATERDAY NIGHT.

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