NDtex25: Week 4

With week 4 now in the books, it’s time to take a look at how my little ranking experiment is going.  As always, if you need a refresher on how this works, check out the original post for all formulas.

This week, it appears that everything is starting to stabilize a bit.  There are still some interesting appearances in the NDtex25 this week, but now with many teams having a few games in the books things are starting to look “normal” if you will.  For example, this week, the NDtex25 only has seven teams that are unranked in the AP Poll and eight unranked teams from the Coaches’ Poll.  Only one team from the AP Poll’s top 10 doesn’t appear as well.

My guess would be that next week, my rankings will include nearly all of the teams from the two polls, but in different order.  By the time the first BCS poll comes out, this should definitely be the case.  One thing is for sure though, slowly but surely, the NDtex25 is becoming a bit less of “wtf how did that team make it” and now will be more of a comparison on how my top teams differ from the order that they appear in the polls.

This week’s rankings are below with their AP and Coaches’ Poll ranks also in the table for comparison.

RankTeamFinal ScorePrevious RankAP RankCoaches' Rank
1Oklahoma State114.5156
2Nebraska107.75788
3Georgia Tech10552121
4Texas10341717
5LSU101.5912
6USF100.5141614
7Alabama100.251632
8Clemson100.2561315
9Oklahoma100321
10Stanford96.252164
11Auburn95.7519NRNR
12Boise State95.251045
13Florida93.25231212
14Michigan93261919
15South Carolina90.2530109
16Ohio State89.7582NRNR
17Arizona State89.53925NR
18Wisconsin84.752777
19Michigan State84.7567NRNR
20FIU83.7525NRNR
21Baylor82.75591516
22Houston82.528NRNR
23Mississippi State82.544NRNR
24Vanderbilt81.510NRNR
25Virginia Tech81.25131110

Knocked Out (Previous Rank): Ohio (2), Illinois (11), Utah (12), Texas A&M (15), Kansas State (17), San Diego State (18), Texas Tech (20), Wyoming (22), USC (24)

Just Missing the Cut: Illinos, Rutgers, Bowling Green, Kansas State, Missouri

Much like last week, any team that raises eyebrows are still benefiting from blowout wins over middle of the road teams.  Ohio State and Auburn are the best examples.  Michigan State as well rebounded from a multiple possession beating by ND to claw their way back into the top 25.  I believe that much of this is due to the small amount of games that have been played as the blowout wins easily cancel out the majority of the losses and then some.

Once again, the Big XII is king, having five teams in the NDtex25, three of which are in the top five.  The SEC though has the numbers with seven teams appearing the top 25 with LSU cracking the top 5.  The Big Ten also checks in this week with five teams thanks to the crazy additions of Michigan State and Michigan and one team in the top 5.

The worst team in the nation this week: Akron. You’ve made LeBron James proud!

As always, to close things out, it’s time to look at the rankings as they concern Notre Dame:

  • Notre Dame’s Rank: 42 (Previous Rank: 32)
  • Opponent Rankings
    • USF: 5
    • Michigan: 15
    • Michigan State: 20
    • Pitt: 63
    • Purdue: 47
    • Air Force: 84
    • USC: 54
    • Navy: 33
    • Wake Forest: 71
    • Maryland: 98
    • Boston College: 109
    • Stanford: 10

NDtex25: Week 3

Yes, yes, I know a game has already been played in Week 4 and I’m horribly behind.  I apologize, but the job that actually pays the bills got quite a bit hectic this week.  On top of that, I attempted to write a conference realignment post which became worthless twice, so that was a fantastic idea.

Ideally my rankings will be up Tuesday or Wednesday before any football is played.  Some weeks it may not happen, but I’ll do my best to stick to it.

Anyways, the experiment that is the NDtex25 continues to be crazier than expected.  I thought I’d see a lot more stabilization this week. In some ways, I did.  In others, I had some more wtf results.

As of right now, I fear that I am too generous with my three plus possession multiplier in margin of victory (if you are lost, you should probably read the original post for this craziness).  I’m still hoping this will level out by season’s end; however, it is definitely clear that teams that beat some middle-of-the-road-opponents in such a manner (and I’m talking ranked around 50-80 or so) seem to be seriously reaping the benefits.  It’s taking a lot of willpower on my end to let this experiment ride out, but I definitely feel that this is an area that will need to see some serious tweaks down the road if this doesn’t level out in a few more weeks.

Having a preseason NDtex25 would probably help as well, but I decided not to do that…oh well.

Anyways, here is your NDtex25 for Week 3:

RankTeamFinal ScorePrevious RankAP RankCoaches' Rank
1Oklahoma State110.251576
2Ohio10822NRNR
3Oklahoma107.25311
4Texas105.581918
5Georgia Tech105.2522524
6Clemson10552122
7Nebraska1043499
8Boise State100.252144
9LSU981823
10Vanderbilt97.7516NRNR
11Illinois969NRNR
12Utah95.555NRNR
13Virginia Tech93.75371311
14USF90.571817
15Texas A&M89.253888
16Alabama88.751132
17Kansas State88.584NRNR
18San Diego State87.553NRNR
19Auburn87.523NRNR
20Texas Tech87.2585NRNR
21Stanford86.51455
22Wyoming86.586NRNR
23Florida85.5271515
24USC844223NR
25FIU8417NRNR

Knocked Out (Previous Rank): Bowling Green (1), Navy (4), UCF (6), Mississippi State (10), Kentucky (12), Houston (13), Michigan State (19), South Carolina (20), Arkansas (24), Missouri (25)

Just Missing the Cut: Michigan, Wisconsin, Houston, Louisville, South Carolina

Despite the Big XII completely falling apart at the seams and the fake Dan Bebee going on a Twitter rant of epic proportions, they are completely dominating the NDtex25.  There are six Big XII teams in the NDtex25, three of which are in the top five.  Believe me, this isn’t some kind of southern bias as all three of the teams in my own top five are vomit inducing.  All these teams have benefited, in the most part, from big wins.  Texas, however, benefits from holding on against teams that had a decently high ranking from last week, so I would expect them to start to plummet at their current rate, despite the blowout win against UCLA.

The conference with the second most (five teams)? The SEC (commence S-E-C chant for coming in second place to THE FREAKING BIG XII).

Everyone’s favorite BCS buster, Boise State, has finally cracked my top 10, but were leapfrogged by Ohio whose blowout wins against an overrated New Mexico State and Marshall, helped them jump from 22.  If any Ohio fan is reading this blog (highly doubtful), enjoy it while it lasts because your two blowout wins are about to be seriously devalued next week.  New Mexico State checks in at 85 and Marshall sits at 114.  So yes, the balancing out will continue for these MAC team that continue to be overrated.

The previous MAC-daddy on top of the NDtex25, Bowling Green, suffered a loss to the powerhouse that is Wyoming (hilariously ranked 22 this week for beating the “number one team”), which dropped them down to 35 this week.  My crazy formulas giveth and taketh away quite equally.

The worst team in the nation according to me: UAB.  Being blown out by Florida is forgivable, but being blown out by freaking Tulane is a joke.  Hang your head in shame.

And to close, it’s time to focus on how these rankings treat Notre Dame and their opponents:

  • ND’s Rank: 32 (YAY victory against an overrated Michigan State!)
  • Opponent Ranks
    • USF: 14 (Man we make people look good)
    • Michigan: 26 (Michigan falling out of my own top 25 makes that loss that much harder to swallow)
    • Michigan State: 67 (Like I said, losses severely punished, previous rank was 19!)
    • Pitt: 61 (Playing a FCS team and blowing a 17 point lead does you no favors)
    • Purdue: 40 (Shockingly high rating in my opinion)
    • Air Force: 100 (Sucks to be them)
    • USC: 24 (Vomit…)
    • Navy: 41 (beating South Carolina would’ve helped)
    • Wake Forest: 54 (Again, surprisingly high)
    • Maryland: 65 (They can thank Miami for winning)
    • Boston College: 116 (losing to Duke hurts, also lolBC)
    • Stanford: 14 (Still holding on strong to their top 25 slot)

NDtex25: Week 2 (And Week 1 Corrections!)

Well, thank God I decided that I should back up results every week because after I entered in data for Week 2, I noticed that my code had some serious errors.  Taking a look back at Week 1, I noticed that some of these errors appeared there as well so I started over.

I knew there would be some crazy results, so things didn’t look so bad.  Glad I paid more attention this time around!

Although even my best intentions about blew up in my face when I managed to delete my entire database while trying to restore it (I swear only I could do that), I managed to do a lot of database rebuilding through a few files.  Thankfully didn’t have to re-enter everything manually and was able to piece everything back together.

Anyways, me being me and finding hilarious ways to screw up my own programming aside, I have got everything in order.  This should be the last speed bump and hopefully I can now start thinking of ways to input this faster to save myself a ton of time.

With all that being said, here are your corrected NDtex25 rankings for Week 1:

RankTeamScore
1Bowling Green111.5
2Clemson110.75
3Oklahoma109.5
4Mississippi State105.25
5Kentucky104.5
6Illinois104
7Texas102
8Missouri99.25
9Northern Illinois98
10South Carolina96.5
11Texas A&M96.5
12LSU96.5
13BYU92.75
14Stanford91.75
15Cal90.25
16Oklahoma State90
17Alabama89.5
18Colorado State87.75
19Ohio87.25
20Hawaii87.25
21FIU85.25
22Boise State85.25
23Maryland84
24Pittsburgh81.75
25Florida80.5

Just missing the cut: Ohio State, Michigan, USF, Auburn, West Virginia

Bowling Green bumps up from a #2 to #1 and previous #1 Mississippi State falls to #5 in the corrected rankings.  Boise State was another winning from the corrections, heading into the top 25, ready to bust up the BCS.

Notre Dame also benefited slightly with a one spot jump from 49 to 48 in the rankings as well.

Using these corrected rankings, we now move on to week 2:

RankTeamScorePrevious Rank
1Bowling Green1131
2Georgia Tech111.2576
3Oklahoma106.53
4Navy105.7583
5Clemson1052
6UCF10598
7USF103.2528
8Texas101.57
9Illinois100.56
10Mississippi State99.54
11Alabama97.7517
12Kentucky965
13Houston95.7542
14Stanford92.7514
15Oklahoma State9016
16Vanderbilt88.75101
17FIU8821
18LSU8812
19Michigan State86.7582
20South Carolina84.7510
21Boise State8222
22Ohio81.2519
23Auburn81.2519
24Arkansas80.2570
25Missouri79.758

Fell out of NDtex25 (Previous Ranking in parenthesis):  Northern Illinois (9), Texas A&M (11), BYU (13), Cal (15), Colorado State (18), Hawaii (20), Maryland (23), Pittsburgh (24), Florida (25)

Just missing the cut: Tulsa, Florida, Arkansas State, Cal, BYU

Where Is ND Ranked? 87 (I guess we can take solace that USF is ranked 7 now?)

There is quite a bit of movement this week.  This is mostly due to the fact so many teams had BYE weeks or played FCS teams which aren’t counted in the rankings.  It was interesting to note though, that many of the teams that stayed idle or played a FCS team, paid for it.

One exception though, is top ranked Bowling Green who hilariously holds on to their top spot despite facing a FCS team to stay basically idle.  However, the other shoe should drop next week as Idaho continues to fall in the rankings (now 79), which will make that victory’s W/L point total continue to fall.

The other interesting case are teams that fell in the NDtex25 while still winning their games: Kentucky and South Carolina.  It’s hard to feel sorry for Kentucky falling based on their absolutely horrid opening game and they very well could’ve lost to UCF last week.  I would definitely expect their ranking to continue to drop at this rank.  South Carolina has pretty much victimized themselves as well by letting opponents hang around, leading to low victory margins and ANTY.

Next week, I think we will start to see the first signs of stabilization.  Just about everyone has a game in against a FBS team with a couple of low ranked exceptions, and the initial blowouts against bad teams will continue to be exposed as the season moves on.  Plus, since we are taking averages for the other two metrics (ANTY and TO Margin), those too will level out as the season progresses.

I do have some concerns about the margin and ranking multipliers, but in all honesty that really won’t expose itself until late in the season as well.  As much as I want to tinker around with my formula on occasion, I will let this experiment ride out to the season’s conclusion, even if the rankings start going off the rails.

Irish Blogger Gathering: Season on the Brink

Well, when I first volunteered to host the IBG for Michigan State week, I definitely could not have expected being 0-2 in the most frustrating fashion possible.  After such high expectations from pretty much everyone in the IBG, we now face a season on the brink.

There’s no avoiding it, these last two weeks have completely sucked.  My questions to the rest of the IBG are below and we’ll see if we can’t make some sense out of the disasters from the last two weeks.

My answers will be posted in the middle of the week and I will post links to responses as I made aware of them.  Here’s hoping my first ever IBG host leads to an Irish victory this week.

IBG Responses

1. Let’s go ahead and talk about the big pink elephant in the room. After two absolutely horrid, heart-breaking, and downright mind-boggling performances, how do you feel about this team moving forward? Are we simply a bad team or a team that just hasn’t put it together yet? This is your chance to talk Irish fans of the ledge…or push them over.

It is hard to exactly describe my feelings about this team.  Make no doubt, I know this team is unbelievably talented and I firmly believe that Kelly is the right coach for the Irish.  However, I cannot pretend that the Irish turning the ball over 5 times in each of their two games doesn’t disturb me.  I also cannot believe that we allowed Michigan to create a comeback that should’ve never of happened.

Last season, we had another frustrating start, going 1-2 out of the gate and we were telling ourselves that we were one drive (Michigan) and one play (Michigan State fake FG) from being 3-0 out of the gate.  Granted, things are much, much different this time around.  We are much better than last year and we have beaten ourselves.

That’s what makes this all the more frustrating.  I know damned well that this team should be 2-0 with zero doubt and lighting the college football world on fire.  Now, the same usual uniformed people think we are a fraud yet again.  It drives me mad.

I’m not on the ledge, nor should any other Irish fan be; however, I can see its appeal.  I can see why it would make some sense to be there, even though I know it is beyond stupid of me to even think so.

I’m waiting for this team to click.  They’ve shown not just flashes of being good, but flashes of absolute dominance the like of which I haven’t seen from a ND team.

We are good, damned good. It’s time to put it together.

2. It’s time to put on the headset and step into the shoes of Brian Kelly. In the first quarter, it seemed like your message and plan to recover from the USF disaster worked, and then the rest of the game happened. How do approach this week? What message do you give your players?

If I’m Kelly, I stick to the same game plan that I used during Michigan week for the most part.  I can’t completely tear the team apart, despite their frustrating showings.  Now is not the time to panic.

I start by telling the players that redemption starts now by knocking off a Michigan State team that is ranked 15th in the nation.  I remind them that such a victory could indeed be the start of a BCS campaign.  A 10-2 Irish take takes down Sparty, USC, and Stanford won’t be denied a spot in one of the big games.

At the same time though, when it comes down to practice, I am going to be even more critical than ever before.  Minor mistakes can turn into big ones come gametime.  Furthermore, I am looking harder at how my players react to things that happen in practice.  Do they start hanging their head when they drop a pass?  Does anyone seem to care that they blew coverage?  This is the time as a coach to have such a feel for my team that I can notice these signs during the practice week and nip it in the bud before it creeps into game week.

I know my team can win, but I need to make sure they are mentally ready and believe without a doubt they will do so.

3. Keep that headset on, you are still playing Kelly. Based upon what you’ve seen these last two games, do you see players that need to start riding the pine or are you still confident in your depth chart?

I’m not changing any of my starters; however, I am paying far, far more attention to mistakes and reactions from them on the field like I did in practice.  I have always said “next man in” when it comes to injuries, and I will apply that to the mental side of the game as well.

I’ll be ready to yank anyone off the field that seems to be sliding mentally–not to bench them, but to take the time to get them coached up whether it is by me or an assistant.  I need everyone’s head to be right on the field because just one person can affect the other ten.

Furthermore, I will not be afraid to rotate my freshmen freely.  I kept Tuitt and Lynch off the field more than I should have during Michigan.  That’s telling them and the rest of my squad I am deathly afraid of mistakes and I shouldn’t be.

So if Gary Gray seems have issues, I send in Lo Wood for a bit.  I know Gray is good and has proved it to me before.  If Wood gets burned once, so be it.  It’ll light a fire under Gray’s ass and he’ll want to prove that’s his spot out there.  If he (or anyone else for that matter) can’t, I don’t want him out there.

4. Overall, how do you feel about Rees’ performance against Michigan?

Overall, it’s positive.  You don’t lead a team to 500+ yards by completely sucking and he led a clutch drive that should have won the game for the Irish.

However, he still made some head-scratching mistakes and caused turnovers on his own.  He made some bad throws and had a fumble that I still can’t explain.  You just can’t make those mistakes and expect to win.

Finally, as much as people love how much Rees “gets the ball to Floyd”, he locks in on him far too often.  For all the criticism’s on Crist, you can’t deny that he would spread the ball around with no issue.  Floyd is great, but you can’t deny your other receivers that are wide open as well.

But like I said, overall, he did good.  If I were to give a letter grade I’d go B-/B.

5. Let’s talk about something happy: the Irish running game.  After a 198 yard performance by the Irish do you feel that this rushing attack led by Cierre Wood (134 yards) is for real or have we not run into a tough enough defensive test yet?

A little from column A and a little from column B.

Sparty should be the real test as they have the best D-Line we’ve faced yet.  If you remember back to my first responses to the IBG, I said that Jerel Worthy (DT) would be the best defender that we would face all season.  Should Wood and the rest of the rushing attack keep up the current pace, I’ll say the rushing game has definitely arrive.

As of right now though, I say we are close and the rushing attack is easily one of the things that I’m most optimistic about on this team.

6. Looking ahead to Michigan State, how do you gauge them?  Is this the best team that we’ve faced off against yet or is this just an untested team that beat up on two cupcakes in Youngstown State and Florida Atlantic?

Definitely the best team we’ve faced yet.  Yes, they’ve played two cupcakes, but they are consistently tough and consistently play us tough.  They didn’t win the Big Ten last year by pure luck.

This game is always a dog fight and we should expect nothing less.

7. Is the key to winning simply not turning the ball over or do you see other crucial keys to beating Sparty?

If we had five keys to the game, one through four would be “hold on to the damned ball”.  However, I see the battle in the trenches as another key in this one.  As I mentioned before, we will face a stout D-Line and it’ll be a solid test to see just how physically dominant our O-Line actually is.  If we have a big rushing day and are able to protect Rees, I will be very happy.

Another key that I feel I should mention: punting.  For the love of God, if we have to punt can we not put our defense into a hole and win the field position battle?  Kelly has made it clear Turk will be punting no matter what, so I hope he figures out whatever his issue is or I will be screaming at my TV for anyone else to do the honors.

8. Obviously every week should be a must win, but I think there is definitely more of an urgency this week. How crucial is this game for the rest of our season?

To me this game couldn’t be more of a “must win”.  1-2 means that you can recover and start a BCS run, 0-3 means you are praying for a bowl birth.  This could very well end up being a defining game for Kelly.  Should he manage to come out and beat the thorn in our side that is Sparty in any kind of convincing matter and start a complete season turn around, he could be hailed as legendary (instead of the crazies calling for his head 1 year and 2 games in).

With the last two disasters, the Irish will be looking for a fresh start and beating the flag planting bastards that are Sparty is one hell of a start.

ND Football, The Reoccurring Nightmare

Under the lights in the Big House, the Irish put together another 500+ yard game, ending a full 60 yards ahead of hated Michigan.  They once again had their improved rushing game flourish, falling just two yards short of 200 total rushing yards.  Rees had another 300+ yard passing day, Wood had another 100+ yard rushing day.

And the Irish turned the ball over 5 times, again.

To add insult to injury, we had a flashback to last year as well.  Once again, Denard Robinson led a last minute comeback drive that spanned 80 yards to put yet another dagger in the Irish.  This time he pulled this drive off with just 30 seconds on the clock, using only 28 of them.  It took only three passes, only one of which feel incomplete.

We can dispel the myth that somehow Tommy Rees somehow magically makes this team play better (that isn’t meant to slam Rees, but, hopefully, I never have to see that argument again).  The number of drops might have gone down from last week, but the same number of turnovers remain, with the most crushing on being a Rees fumble that I can’t even begin to explain.  That fumble stopped a drive that could have put the game away.

In fact, the phrase “failing to put the game away” is the story of this entire game.  Unlike USF, the Irish came out and played to perfection.  They forced two Michigan three and outs and turned each of their resulting offensive possessions into TDs.  Michigan finally got their first first down on their third drive, but immediately followed it up with an INT.  The Irish had a chance to go for the kill, but failed and punted.

That drive was just the first of many missed opportunities for the Irish, but despite all that, the Irish still had a 21 point lead heading into the fourth quarter.  Granted, Michigan scored a TD immediately to start the fourth, so you could argue it was a 14 point lead.

However, that TD was the most mind boggling thing that I’ve ever seen.  The Irish defense did it’s job, stuffed the attempted TD run and forced a fumble…that Robinson immediately ran in the endzone untouched.

Denard was good but not great.  He barely rushed for over 100, but somehow managed over 300 passing yards on just 11 completions.  Damn near every single completion was an underthrown, lame duck, jump-ball that our DBs just couldn’t adjust too.  Robinson made them all look just silly in the most unimpressive fashion, ending with Gary Gray again forgetting to turn his head around to find the ball in the endzone.

I’m not even sure what to say at this point.  During USF, the Irish could never get anything going.  Against Michigan, we failed to close out what could have very well been a blowout win and at worst, should’ve been a single possession victory.  Both times though, turnovers and mental errors allowed two inferior teams to beat us.

Next week, Sparty comes in and is easily the best team that we will face yet.  With this season nearing life support early, we are once again looking to next week for the Irish to put it all together, stop making mistakes and play the football we know they are capable of, putting together the flash they showed in the first quarter and extending it for a full game.

It isn’t a lack of talent.  It isn’t a poor head coach.  I don’t believe the entire team is of the “here we go again mindset”.  I’m sure there are players that have it, but I believe it is a minority and I hope they find their way to the bench soon.

There is still hope, but admittedly, it’s fading fast.  For the Irish to hit their BCS hopes, they will basically need to run the table.  There is no other option.

This next week is going to be one of the most pivotal weeks for the Irish have ever faced and one that may very well define Kelly’s tenure.

ND/Michigan Preview

The Irish defense, led by Manti Te'o, attempt to stop Denard Robinson in last year's game (Getty Images)

This past weekend was a disappointment to say the least.  While I had predicted that the game would be too close for comfort at points, I never could have imagined that we’d cough the ball up five times, drop passes everywhere, and have a QB controversy not even a week after Crist was named the starter.

However, that was last week.  The game is done and no matter how bad it was, it only counts as one loss.  The sky isn’t falling.

…yet.

As I type the Irish are en-route to Ann Arbor and will take on the ever so hated Wolverines under the lights of the Big House.  It will be your featured game for the day.  College Gameday will be on hand, along with Michigan football alum Desmond Howard.  Both teams will don throwback jerseys.  All eyes will be on this game.

To add on, another disappointment has to be fresh in everyone’s mind and that would be last year’s collapse against Michigan.  A game in which the Irish started on fire and quickly saw it spiral out of control when Crist was knocked out of the game.  Rees, this year’s starter, came in and out in just a series.  Nate Montana was then called on to hold it all together.  Despite this QB craziness, Crist came back in and helped the Irish take a late lead, only to watch Denard Robinson torch the Irish on one last drive just as he had done all game.

Another collapse this time around though would be catastrophic, putting the Irish in the hole 0-2 on a season that still has BCS hopes.

Despite these dark clouds though the Irish have a lot to build on, even after last week’s disaster against USF.  Take away the turnovers and you have a stellar outing by the defense and an offense that put on a 500+ yard show.  Logic should state that if the Irish can avoid making mistakes that will make Kelly’s head explode on the sideline, the Irish should be able to handle Michigan.

But of course, there is still that persistent fear of Denard Robinson.  Fears should be somewhat eased though as Robinson did not really light up the stat sheet with a shortened game against Western Michigan.  Robinson went 9/13 for a total of only 98 yards passing and rushed for just 46.  Even playing in a shortened game, Robinson was far from taking that game over.

Instead, we should perhaps shift our fears to Fitzgerald Toussaint who had an impressive 80 yards on only 11 carries for a very stout 7.3 yards/carry.  If Michigan now isn’t a complete one man show on offense, the Irish defense could have quite a test in front of them as they can’t just zone in on Robinson.

For the Irish to be successful, the front seven will have to stop the run and force Robinson’s arm and not his (or Toussaint’s) feet beat us.  This does seem rather obvious, but considering the Wolverines ran the ball twice as much as they did passing last week, it is even more crucial.

Of course, the big question for Michigan is did their defense improve at all?  The answer seems to be no.  Western Michigan managed to put up 279 yards (just 9 less than Michigan’s total).  183 of those yards came through the air.  So yeah, that secondary that was full of holes last year…still full of holes.

The defensive line, which is usually Michigan’s strength gave up 96 yards on the ground.  However, they did not get a single sack in the game.  While there were two sacks against Western Michigan, they came in the 3rd quarter, and were claimed by Jordan Kovacs, a safety.  This is a far cry from the lines that used to give the Irish fits up front.

Much like ND/USF, one of the big stats that pops out are turnovers, and Western Michigan coughed the ball up three times.  The first was an INT that Michigan returned for a TD in which Western Michigan was 2nd and goal on Michigan’s four yard line.  Then, the Broncos coughed up a fumble which Michigan also returned for a TD.  The final turnover was another fumble that occurred right before the game got cancelled.

Turnovers that the opponent turns into points…sound familiar anyone?

If the Irish can just hold on to the damned ball, I really don’t see any reason why they can’t take this one under the lights.  Michigan was far from impressive against Western Michigan and the Irish are far more potent on both sides of the ball than the Broncos.  In fact, if the Irish truly play to potential, I don’t think this game will be close.  The defense will not give Robinson another career day on the field and this front seven can stop the run without a doubt.  The Irish should have no issue taking on a Wolverine defense that is still trying to rebuild as well.

ND should win and win big: 45-14.

But again, I can’t stress this enough: HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL!!!