NDtex.com News

Ever since I started blogging, I have never really had a solid direction and vision in which I wanted to go.  During my days as a student, I had a Blogger account in which I talked ND football and some other random things.  Eventually the Blogger format seemed to limited to me and I launched NDtex.com, hoping that being able to categorize all my different posts would satisfy my “vision” of being able to write about what ever I wanted.

The initial goal was that this site could house anything that I wanted to write and readers would be able to follow the category feeds they wanted.  It was a great idea initially, but the fact of the matter is that this site really had no direction and actually attempting to put out enough content for all those different categories would be a full time job and then some.

Every football season, this site has a huge jump in hits and my content level increases dramatically.  ND football has always been a constant for any blog format or vision that I tried and it is easily the one that I easily enjoy writing about the most.  During this season, I decided to just focus completely on ND and college football to see how I liked it.  It’s been great, I’ve never written so much, nor enjoyed writing for this site like I have these past few week.

So after much thought, this site will be 100% dedicated to ND football while touching on any other big college football news that I find interesting.  If the mood strikes, I will write on other topics and I have created a Tumblr account for any non-ND football topics.

Along with the content focus, you will see several changes to this site, some of which are already in place.  For instance, you will notice that the NDtex25 rankings are now prominently displayed in their own widget so you won’t have to go digging through all my posts to find them.  I have also enabled a sharing plugin allowing you to easily share my posts through just about any outlet you can think of (there is an option for MySpace for crying out loud!).  My comment system is also now linked through Disqus, which will allow you to sign in via various social media formats like Twitter.  My Tumblr comments will run through the same system, so it just made sense to keep the same format between the two.  Don’t worry, if you made a comment here before, it will be imported over.

This site is also now smartphone friendly.  I need to create a better mobile landing page if you visit the site directly via the NDtex.com URL to clean things up a bit; however, direct links to posts work just great.

I’ll also be working to clean up the main landing page a bit, but I’m still trying to figure out what I’d like to do with it.  You’ll also be seeing category cleanups and other small organizational changes to reduce the clutter of my older non-ND content.

You’ve also likely seen a nice little PayPal donation button up as well.  I’m not real high on throwing ads up on the site as of right now, but I do spend a considerable amount of time on writing, researching, and coding for this site, especially since I started the NDtex25.  Any amount tossed my way would be great, especially since my renewal for my hosting server will hit in early 2012.  I’m not expecting anything to be honest and, yes, your money could definitely go to far better causes than my booze habit server, but if you have some money to throw around, I sure wouldn’t mind it going my way (after all, some of you donated money to get Poot a wedding date!).

I’m very excited for the new direction of the site and I’m still kicking around several different ideas.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment below, let me know on twitter, or email me at roritter at ndtex dot com.

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!!!

Irish Blogger Gathering: Michigan Still Sucks

With my first ever NDtex25 rankings out, it’s time to put last week to bed for good.  It happened, it’s over, and I don’t want to think about it any more.  It’s time to focus on what really matters, and that’s hating Michigan and remembering that they still suck.

This week’s IBG is focused primarily on that.  Biscuit over at HerLoyalSons, is leading the charge for this year’s slinging of hate.  My responses to this week’s batch of questions are below.

Not to look too far ahead, but I want to drop a quick note that I will be hosting the IBG next week as we take on Sparty, so be sure to be on the lookout for my inaugural hosting post next week.

1) Well that result really sucked. Please describe how you feel about the loss using lyrics from a pop diva (eg Britney Spears, Rihanna, etc) song. Bonus points for video or pictures. (something good has to come out of last week)

I’m not sure what the obsession is with songs over at HLS for IBG questions.  And picking a pop diva? Really?!  You realize this is the kinda crap that opposing bloggers dream of seeing in order to make fun of us right?

Don’t worry, I’ll be a good sport and play along (honestly nothing can be worse than last weekend’s game anyways).  Let’s go with Britney’s “Oops I Did It Again” because, I can’t think of anything else to say when you continuously drop passes, commit awful penalties, and turn the ball over repeatedly.

Well, I’m sure Kelly has a few choice words, but anyways:

Honorable mention: Pink’s “U + Ur Hand” because I’m sure that’s what quite a few Irish players were told that night after screwing that game up so royally.

2) While we all want to move on, last week’s game can teach us many things about the ’11 Irish. After seeing what Week 1 brought us, do you find yourself more confident, less confident, or still confused as hell about our chances vs the Skunkbears? Why?

I’m more confident oddly enough.  I have to believe that the Irish won’t be turning the ball over five times a game and make the other mistakes that plagued the USF game.  When you take that away, you are left with a rather impressive offensive performance and an even more impressive outing by the defense.  The fact ND even had a shot at winning against USF is impressive considering how many points the Irish simply gave away.

The Irish caused their own demise last week and they know it.  They’ll be looking for someone to take it out on this week to claim redemption.  We couldn’t ask for a better punching bag in Michigan.

3) Other than QB, which position group pleasantly surprised you this past week? Which disappointed? What player absolutely MUST see more time in Week 2? Again, no QBs.

Save for the Jonas Gray fumble, the running backs pleasantly surprised me.  Yes, I did call for good seasons from both, including a breakout year by Cierre Wood, but calling it and having it proven right (for at least one week) are two different things.  Wood, obviously was the big story here.  He was seemingly unstoppable on every touch, flat out running defenders over.  I’m hoping we can have an entire game of balanced offense instead of needing to scrap the running game in only a half because I think Wood is a serious weapon this season.

For disappointment, I’m going to go with our receiving corps.  You simply cannot drop passes as often as they did, end of story.  When you drop a TD and have an INT bounce off your head in the red zone, it’s inexcusable.  Floyd coming up with a big second half is the only thing that really saved them from looking completely awful all game long.

While they obviously saw plenty of time all game long, I want to see our backs get more touches.  I know we had to go one-dimensional out of necessity and I know “we need to run the ball” is rather cliche, but for once, we have a running game that is a true weapon.  Having to abandon that, even with such a great passing attack, is a disservice.  If we can hold on to a balanced attack, opposing teams will definitely have their hands full all season long.  Here’s hoping we don’t have to panic with another all-out aerial assault tomorrow night.

4) Tommy Rees will lead the Irish Offense this week. Do you agree with Coach’s call? Either way, what part of Crist’s game will the Irish O miss the most, if any?

I’m fine with the call for Rees.  The only thing I didn’t agree with as far as QBs go was the quick hook on Crist.  If Kelly is convinced that Rees is his man, I’m all for it, just stick with it and don’t yank him in a half unless he is throwing picks all over the place.

The main thing we’d miss from Dayne is his speed.  Rees is much less of a dual threat than Crist, but considering that we saw no QB draws and read options, it seems that part of the playbook was put to rest.  So really, I don’t think we will be missing too much to be honest.

5) What’s the key to beating the Wolverines this week? Just 1 thing. Not 2. 1.

Hold on to the damned ball.  We can’t be our worst enemy two weeks in a row.

6) Make your Over-Under Picks:

Over-under on Floyd’s receiving total for this coming weekend: 154
Under.  I am probably overconfident, but I don’t think this game will be close and we will be spending more time chewing clock than giving Floyd more yards.

Over-under on Robinson’s rushing total: 100
Under.  I’m quite high on the defense’s performance last week and I think that last year’s performance against Robinson has to be major motivation as well.

Over-under on ND Number of Turnovers: 2
Under. For the love of God this better be under…

Over-under on Number of Times Kelly is caught Purple Monstering Out: 2
Under.  Kelly shouldn’t have any reason to lose his head this week (hopefully).

Over-under on ND Total Yards: 425
Over. The Michigan defense hasn’t gotten much better and I think the Irish will be able to move the ball quite easily against them.

7) Michigan: Just Another Opponent, Enemy, or Rival? Explain. 1 Bonus point for each use of the word ‘suck’.

Enemy. Hated enemy.

The Blue-Gray Sky wrote a nice letter to Michigan fans in 2005 to remind us why as well.  Michigan hasn’t exactly made their hatred a secret either.

We both have our “bigger” rivals.  Michigan has Ohio State and we have USC.  This game is a road block to a bigger picture, the bigger game that fans are really looking forward to.  A loss here ruins the season, the loser is then driven completely nuts that their season is now sullied by losing to the other.

From Michigan’s standpoint, we are a tougher, unneeded non-conference opponent that gets in the way of their more “important” Big Ten conference games.  Losing to us is just a distraction from the Rose Bowl that they’ll get to once every blue moon at this rate.  Beating us isn’t much better either.  It’d be great for a national title run, but when your recent history includes a loss to an FCS team and firing a coach that helped drive your program into the crowd, title thoughts are far away.

That’s why, before the most recent contract extension between the two of us was signed, there was plenty of noise from the Michigan side that the series could, in fact, end.  One of the funnier things I heard was a statement from Michigan, Bo Schembechler, specifically, that “Notre Dame needs us more than we need them”. Unfortunately, it seems the Detroit Free press has since taken down the article, but there are still some blogs that mention this hilarious statement from Bo who was about as anti-ND as they come.

Michigan fans tend to buy this line, convinced, somehow, that we are their little stepchild.  Michigan fans will make no bones about it either.  I even had one fan go as far to tell me it was harder to get into Michigan than ND…this also happened at a ND/USC game in South Bend.

It’s too hard for Michigan to be convinced that somehow we ever rose above them.  They have no logic behind it, so in steps pure hatred.  Feel free to throw it our way Skunkbears, we will throw it right back.

8 ) It’s Michigan week. Name 1 thing in the world that sucks as much as Michigan, if you can.

Damn, this is a tough on…uh, maybe Ty? Wait, no, even he managed to beat them. Oh, wait, I got this one: Craig James!

Shame one of the five hookers he killed at SMU wasn’t named Ann Arbor.

9) RichRod is back, announcing for CBS. Can’t wait to see how that goes. Bet he’s horrible.

Bet it’s better than Craig James.