Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one. Something like… Punt-Counterpunt.
By Ken “Sky” Walker
Last week, one of the comments asked the question “Am I the only one that doesn’t really understand what this is supposed to be?” in reference to the columns appearing here on game day. Lest any of our readers wallow in ignorance, here’s the genesis of (at least what I believe it to be) Punt/CounterPunt.
Search for Point/Counterpoint and you’ll find that this was the name of a segment aired on the CBS show 60 Minutes. The idea was to feature opposing political viewpoints on the issues of the day. You should also come across a YouTube video of a Saturday Night Live take on this segment [ed: embedding disabled, sorry kids]. Watch and you’ll understand why Counterpunt’s columns take the tone they do. Guess he’s just never evolved beyond that old comedy bit (though I admit it’s a classic). There—consider yourself learned.
That was the history geek coming out of me. Let's continue: the recent history of the Michigan/Notre Dame rivalry in football has greatly favored our Wolverines. The last three games each had their season’s best finishes. The Denard Robinson Experience has been at its most spectacular vs. the Irish. Golden Dome worshipers have to wonder when divine intervention going to kick in on their behalf. Denard’s performances in these games have been truly a wonder to behold. He’s left his mark on one of the sport’s best rivalries, one that won’t be equaled for a long time to come.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn’t seem to be much concerned with historical trends. I think he sees his lack of success vs. Michigan as merely a matter of unlucky breaks. (Bad luck and the crap load of yardage his defense gives up to Denard every game!) That would jibe with his persona, which is kind of smarmy. He’s like a cocky, fast talking Wall Street con artist who just lost (or stole) your life savings. So sorry, how did that happen?
As much as I’d love to see Denard put on another show, I think Coach Kelly has got the goods this time. The Irish defense looks strong—the Wolverine defense looks kind of squishy. Michigan’s receivers sho
uld give them an advantage in the passing game, but can the offensive line give Denard time to make comfortable throws? I fear the third time’s a charm for Kelly – Irish eyes will be smiling after this one.
Michigan 24 Notre Dame 35
By Nick RouMel
I am not too keen on pop culture. For example, I am vaguely aware that there is someone named “Snooki” who is wildly popular, despite having no discernible talent.
Similarly, someone who was not steeped in football history might wonder why there is all the fuss about Notre Dame football. Since Lou Holtz left in 1996, they are on their sixth coach (yes, I’m counting an 0-1 interim coach, plus non-coach resume-padder George O’Leary). On the field during that span, they have averaged 7-5 seasons, putting them on a par with fellow ACC football powerhouses such as Wake Forest.
Yet, like Snooki, the Irish still get media love. Why? Have we plummeted to such depths, that mediocrity plus media coverage somehow equals greatness?
You may discern that I don’t like Notre Dame. That is not entirely accurate. I despise Notre Dame with every fibre of my being. I hate them so much that I actually root for Michigan State to beat them every year, and the Spartans are well down my rooting hierarchy, perhaps a notch above Ohio State for third to last place. And what does Sparty do? Lose! Not that it broke my heart, but it gave Notre Dame this feeling that they’re back! That this year, they really mean it! Like Snooki having her baby, they now have a legitimate reason to be media darlings! [ed: "Vaguely aware" indeed.]
Why, just look at the Irish, sitting pretty at 3-0. Like they’re not supposed to start 3-0, year in and year out. (Remember they criticized Ty Willingham for only starting his first three games at 3-0.) So now the Irish are ranked, #11, and they host Michigan in their storied stadium tonight, with Touchdown Jesus, First Down Moses, and Illegal Procedure Paterno (whoops, wrong school) smiling benevolently at the beat-down. Their fans will be out for blood, looking to defeat Michigan for the first time in four years.
But they also fear the Wolverines, perhaps like no other team in recent history. The Irish have lost the last three contests in the last 40 seconds combined. Tate Forcier beat them in ’09 with 11 seconds on the clock, and Denard torched them twice - with 27 seconds left in ’10, and just 2 seconds from the final gun last year - when we rallied from a 24-7 deficit at home.
Yes, we have their number. Michigan’s recent football fortunes may still have us shackled in football prison, but if so, Notre Dame is in solitary confinement. And we are the envy of all the other inmates, because with those golden helmets and all, the Irish are even prettier than Snooki.
Denard does it again, with a second left:
MICHIGAN 24, NOTRE DAME 23