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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Notre Dame Loses... So What?


Like many of you may have done, I spent the remnants of my Saturday watching Notre Dame in their game against South Florida in South Bend. Though there were some clear similarities to Michigan's Saturday game, (both suffered several rain delays) I still think that most of the nation was surprised at the outcome.

Notre Dame entered as #16 in the country and was hailed by many as a potential BCS or National Championship team. However, what we saw early was the complete opposite. Though Notre Dame's statistics may cloud judgment on their play, there is no question that they looked undisciplined and consistently "shot themselves in the foot."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that South Florida really didn't win Saturday's game, Notre Dame lost the game. Notre Dame ended with 5 turnovers (3 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles) and 8 total penalties that amounted to 73 total yards. Overcoming those deficits in any game is almost impossible. Looking at this game, Notre Dame amassed 391 passing yards and 117 rushing yards, far from a bad day.

The problem was that every time Notre Dame would begin to have success, they would make some mistake that cost them the chance to actually benefit. For instance, you can have a great 99 yard drive, but if you throw a pick 6 on the goal line, it didn't really benefit the team.

So if Notre Dame "shot themselves in the foot," what does this mean for Michigan? Should we celebrate in their immense failure or fear for their potential? Though some are going to call this simply a "bad day" for the Irish or claim the media has just boosted up Notre Dame as usual, I think we should take a more rational route.

Clearly, Notre Dame did not play like the #16 team or as a potential BCS team, but that doesn't mean they are a pushover either. Teams have bad games, and in many ways, that's what occurred on Saturday for Notre Dame. If they had corrected even 1 of those turnovers or a couple penalties, they likely win that game. However, just because they could have done something doesn't mean they will or that any difference would have been made.

For example, if you look at Michigan's season and pick things that could have went right or wrong, Michigan could have ended with 5-9 wins, but we live in reality. Notre Dame seems still incapable of putting together a banner season or winning the "big game." I simply think Michigan fans need to look at the Irish's Saturday game from an outside perspective. Sure, we want them to be thoroughly dominated this Saturday Under the Lights, but that doesn't mean that Michigan should be a huge favorite this Saturday.

Notre Dame ended last season on a hot streak that included a bowl victory and should be given at least a fair amount of respect considering they are virtually the same team. Michigan will certainly be out to win this historic match up, but the victories in 2009 and 2010 does not accurately depict the 2011 game. This will mark the 3rd different coaching match up in just 3 years for the Notre Dame - Michigan rivalry game.

As I said, get hyped for this Saturday as it marks a historic game for the Big House and Michigan football history, but remember this is no pushover opponent. They make some mistakes, but we can hardly act as if they're not talented or well coached. Let's hope they are truly outplayed and don't need to "shoot themselves in the foot" on Saturday to give Michigan a win.