2012 Mich at ND Implications

Submitted by Blazefire on March 19th, 2012 at 12:30 AM

The following is submitted for your consideration.

Over the past three years, Michigan/ND games have been decided by a total of 40 seconds.

Michigan finished last season highly ranked and recorded a Sugar Bowl win. ND finished just outside the top 25 with the impression that more of their problems were random than schematic or talent. Further, ND always gets a boost in early season rankings.

Additionally, Michigan opens the season facing National Champion Alabama in Dallas and then a very good Air Force squad. Meanwhile, ND opens against Navy in a sure-to-be-widely-watched game in Dublin, Ireland. They follow that up with a solid MSU and Purdue.

Most people suggest that year three is the one that sees the pieces all come together for a newly spread squad. ND is primed to make a jump from better than they seem 8-5 to high-level contender.

Because it is March, I gie you this question. If Michigan oepsn 3-0 including a win over Bama, and ND opens 3-0 with 2 wins over the B1G and a game in Ireland, does that make ND a de-facto early season championship play in game?

Obviously, a lot can change over the rest of the season, but it seems to me that the cards are lining up right for a matchup that could vault the winner into the top 2 or 3. I would LOVE to see that. It's been a long time since a Michigan/ND game was that relevant.



March 19th, 2012 at 12:34 AM ^

I would agree that if both teams were undefeated, it would be a game with HUGE implications....

But, something tells me the chances of both teams being undefeated is pretty small


March 19th, 2012 at 3:18 AM ^

i think nd comes into the game undefeated. we will likely lose to bama. we had a better than expected year but we still lack great talent, experience and depth. I wont even go into the questions about our OL and DL, let alone the fact that denard's progress into a true QB or what he has always been could determine a year close to .500 or similar to last year or better. anyway, would love it but we will have a loss going into the nd game.

Hardware Sushi

March 19th, 2012 at 8:51 AM ^


The o-line is a consensus worry. Sure, the starting five may be good but tell me who's our backup tackle? Or center? Or first guard replacement? That's not counting we don't even have our first-string center or left guard determined yet.

Last year, where our oline stayed relatively healthy and we didn't need a ton of depth, was a rare season.


March 19th, 2012 at 9:53 AM ^

Barnum pretty much has a stranglehold on center, and he's been moved there as a result of a surging Chris Bryant takin over the left guard spot. I agree the back-ups seem a little more shaky, but Kalis could probably plug in at right tackle or a guard spot. And we haven't even talked about redshirt senior Elliott Mealer seeing the field yet. Relative to other positions on the team, the offensive line is a strength, and a few of the starters there are All-B1G caliber. I'm much more worried about the wide receivers and defensive line.


March 19th, 2012 at 11:26 AM ^

Barnum pretty much has a stranglehold on center, and he's been moved there as a result of a surging Chris Bryant takin over the left guard spot.

Do you have some info the rest of us don't? Barnum was moved there because he seems like a good fit, and without the move, the only guy left is a RS Freshman since Rocko left.


March 19th, 2012 at 12:38 AM ^

I have no animosity for Brian Kelly, and I wanted to think that he would be a good coach in South Bend just so our games against them would matter more, but I just can't buy this. There were at least a dozen times last season where Notre Dame made some dumb mistake and I thought to myself, "this reminds me of Michigan in the RR years, I'm sure glad this doesn't happen anymore under Hoke." And I was a RichRod supporter. 

It's a big stretch to believe that Michigan will beat Alabama and that Notre Dame will survive a road game at MSU and a neutral game again always-tough Navy. Chances are good that both teams will be sporting a loss.

Even if they aren't, it's a long way from September to a National Championship game. A very long way. It is a path that takes each team to the home field of their rebuilding arch-rival, among other serious challenges. It is highly unlikely that when the story of 2012 is written, the UM-ND game will be seen as one of its pivotal moments. 

Even if Michigan manages to win them all, ND will finish with 3 or 4 losses at least. They are not championship material.


March 19th, 2012 at 12:41 AM ^

Like you said a lot can change but at that point in the season yes I can see both teams being on the fast track to the Championship.

If Michigan goes undefeated in non conference but loses a game in conference I could still see them in the Championship Game. A lot can change though not much else to talk about.

NOLA Wolverine

March 19th, 2012 at 12:48 AM ^

To your point, I don't see any reason that the "Notre Dame is over valued before running into us" effect on how we're perceived after beating them won't be present again next year (not so much last year, because of USF, but every Rich Rod year that was present). But if Michigan goes to Jerryworld and beats Alabama then I don't think there's any question that they're going to go down to South Bend and blast Notre Dame. I think the effect of beating Alabama would kick us into the top 5, but beating more teams can never hurt.

Where does this 3 year rule come from? Their squad last year had an offensive line and running attack that stuck it to both Michigan and Michigan State,  yet some combination of Brian Kelly's ineptitude, Tommy Rees being within 30 miles of the game being played, and the team not buying in casued them to be a pretty mediocre football team. Until a team from that school bucks up and fights for a win when it matters (football or basketball), I'm not too concerned with facing any of their teams on a high profile stage. 


March 19th, 2012 at 12:59 AM ^

I am more worried about Alabama for two reasons:

1. ND's QB situation imploded as the year wore on for them and I have to think that problems will still exist with that position as Brian Kelly seems like a headcase.

2. When the news of Sheppard leaving came out I was chatting with some ND fans on other boards and found out they have 4 total CBs that have a combined 0 starts. So yea Manti Teo returns and their run D should be good, but that secondary should be very thin and susceptible. 


March 19th, 2012 at 1:01 AM ^

They lost too much, have too many questions, and have too tough of a schedule to do any better. They won't be in the national championship hunt. On the other hand, I think that we will. We are very capable of beating Alabama and even if we don't, losing the first game, especially if it's close, is the best game to lose. The rest of the schedule should pose no significant challenges, especially the ND game.


March 19th, 2012 at 2:07 AM ^

the actual teams that we'll be playing. Bama, the toughest team that we'll face, loses 7 starters on defense and 5 starters on offense. They lose a Heisman candidate at RB, their top 4 leading receivers, 3 LBs, and 3 out of their secondary. Yeah, you say that Alabama replaces that kind of talent. I say that replacing 4-5 1st round defensive picks is unlikely. 

ND loses 3 starters on the offensive line and Michael Floyd on offense, while having no idea who will be their QB next year. I don't know if you remember, but the vast majority of ND's offense last year was throw the ball near Floyd and hope he catches it. They lose 6 more starters on defense, 4 of them in the secondary,  and they literally have just about no one to replace them. Their secondary next year could be as bad as our's 2 years ago.

Nebraska? Nebraska will have the same offense minus 2 starters on the offensive line that we held to 17 points last year. Their defense loses their top 3 defensive players in Crick, David, and Dennard. We face a defense that we put 45 up on, minus those 3 players.

Ohio will be our next toughest game on the schedule, I'll give you that. But they lose 5 starters on offense, 3 on the offensive line, and then Posey and Herron. Ohio only had an offense magically appear when Miller could throw to Posey. Remember Ohio's first 5 games without Posey or Herron? Not an offense in sight. What about Ohio's games without Posey, after Herron came back? Better but still not what we saw in the last game. Point being, they had no offense last year without Posey and Herron, they won't have a very good one this year either. Don't forget that they'll be instilling a new offense as well.

MSU loses 6 starters on offense: their starting QB, starting RB, and top WR are among them. They also lose arguably their top defensive player in Worthy, along with their starting safety.

Iowa loses 3 starters on the offensive line, their top receiver, and their starting running back. Then they lose 6 more on defense, 3 on the D line and they lose Norm Parker who's been the DC there forever. 

Yeah, Air Force loses 17 starters. Sorry if I'm not worried. 

My point with all of this is that our schedule really isn't that tough. We have to replace players too, I know, but I'm banking on us doing a better job than our opponents. Have some faith. I'm betting we go 11-1, maybe even 12-0 if we beat Bama. 



March 19th, 2012 at 4:49 PM ^

ND does not lose 3 starters on the OL.  They return their C, LG, and LT in Cave, Watt, and Zach Martin. They replace Taylor Dever and Trevor Robinson with (likely) Christian Lombard + 1 other fresh face. 

They don't even come anywhere close to losing 6 starters on defense much less 4 in the secondary. They lose Gary Gray (sucked, see game last year against Michigan for evidence), Robert Blanton (eh... OK player) and Harrison Smith (really good and is likely the #2 safety off the board in the NFL draft).  But they return Jamoris Slaughter who is probably a 4th round caliber NFL safety and Zeke Motta who has played a ton of football but sucks maybe even worse then Gary Gray.  So they're basically replacing 2 starters at CB and shifting former co-starters into full time roels at safety.

They lost one "starter" at LB and none on the DL.  Aaron Lynch, Louis Nix, and Stephon Tuitt are the DL starters plus Kapron Lewis-Moore coming back from injury.  LB remains to be seen who actually gets starting nods but all players return except for Darius Fleming who was a starter but split reps at times with Ishaq Williams and Prince Shembo.

So with the "worst case" math ND loses 4 starters on defense in Gray, Blanton, Smith, and Fleming. Using "best case" math they are only replacing 2 starters with fresh faces... both at CB.

Yes, ND will suck this year and be lucky to go 7-5 because they will be worse than Oklahoma, USC, Stanford, and Michigan for absolute sure.  But they aren't losing as many people as you said and I just wanted to correct that.


March 19th, 2012 at 11:09 AM ^

Based on last year's records, it looks tougher than UM's. I think 7-5 is probably their most likely outcome.

Navy 5 7 vs. Alabama   12 1
PURDUE 7 6 vs. Air Force   7 6
at Sparty 11 3 vs. UMass [FCS] 5 6
MICHIGAN 11 2 at Notre Dame   8 5
MIAMI 6 6 at Purdue 7 6
STANFORD 11 2 vs. Illinois 7 6
BYU 10 3 vs. Sparty 11 3
at Oklahoma 10 3 at Nebraska 9 4
PITTSBURGH 6 7 at Minnesota 3 9
at Boston College 4 8 vs. Northwestern 6 7
WAKE FOREST 6 7 vs. Iowa 7 6
at USC 10 2 at Akron State 6 7
  97 56   88 66



March 19th, 2012 at 1:32 AM ^

Unfortunately, I think it's just as likely that we get housed as it is that we win. Even if we do, though, the ND game is very winnable. One of our 38-0 whippings came on the heels of the worse start to a season in program history. Even if we look like Clemson against AL, I'll be excited going into the ND game.


March 19th, 2012 at 7:43 AM ^

think that you may be suffering from some willful blindness as to our national championship possibilities.  Bama, at ND, at Nebraska, at OSU, home for State.  We are replacing the entire interior of our defensive line.  Winning the Sugar Bowl was awesome, but we all saw that game, and well, let's hold off a bit before we get too settled into the BCS/National Championship discussion just yet.

We are "capable" of beating Bama, yes, but Bama is f-ing Bama, I think they just gang-tacked another LSU running back as I am writing this and Nick Saban is currently watching Al Borges game film while eating some sour patch kids.

As for ND.  "ND will not be a challenge?"  Those are some famous last words right there. 


March 19th, 2012 at 1:16 AM ^

If we beat Bama its gonna vault us into America's top 3 easy. But I just don't see that happening, especially with the emergence of AJ McCarron. D Rob, on the other hand, was not throwing the ball well in the Sugar.


Oh, and we don't have any playmakers at WR / TE at the moment, aside from Roundtree, whos receptions dipped from 72 to 19 as soon as they put him on the outside.


March 19th, 2012 at 1:25 AM ^

You can get into the championship game in September, but you can play your way out of it in October and November. I'm more bullish on this season (and the schedule) than most people, but I don't think it's fair to say that this is a play-in championship game with 8 games still left on the schedule. I say that for both teams. Michigan still has trips to Nebraska and Ohio State and hosts the juggalos. Notre Dame still has Oklahoma, Stanford, and USC on the schedule.

The beauty of the best programs is that they don't have one game that makes the season.

San Diego Mick

March 19th, 2012 at 4:34 AM ^

If we beat Bama, and I like our chances, then we go right to the top of the food chart. ND at night at home will not be a cake walk.

If we go into the season prepared well and "hongry", we'll be in the top 5 all year as long as we stay focused, I really believe in this staff and what they can do, I think the sky is the limit!


March 19th, 2012 at 7:52 AM ^

Last spring and summer there was quite a bit of disparaging talk about our shortcomings and weaknesses. Maybe it was justifiable. Thank God our boys listened to our great coaches and played extremely well down the stretch. Sure, for 2012 we have a few holes to fill and some what ifs to contend with, such as: What if BWC steps up and "gets it"; what if JB or QW or RA, or even Pee Wee becomes a force on the DL; what if BC starts believing he is the second coming of King Charles; what if Def Roh strives in the switch; what if DRob kicks it up a notch or two; what if 'Tree or JG or even JJ becomes all world? I know there are a lot of ifs here - but Coach Hoke and his staff have me believing in what we would have thought as highly unlikely a few seasons back. Not anymore - I am a firm believer in team 133 with this coaching staff. Let’s reload and go beat the Tide!


March 19th, 2012 at 7:58 AM ^

well I'll be that guy.. No it's not a play in game. Jesus theres 8 games after that including a gauntlet at Ohio, Nebraska, and a pesky Iowa and sparty team that has had are number for the couple of years at home. I'm going to say far from it. I hate to be a debbie downer but this isn't the year for a NC run. I like the way the 2013 schedule looks compaired to 2012. Hopefully Devin will be up to the task.


March 19th, 2012 at 8:41 AM ^

It's probably easier to break in a couple of interior linemen than a new quarterback. Add to that the possibility that Lewan could leave after 2012 (and could be a bigger loss than Molk or Martin), plus the known losses of Barnum and Omameh and you're replacing most of a pretty good O-line. Half the secondary and half the D-line will depart as well.

2012 is the only time in the near-future that I think you can talk about Michigan winning a title, as unlikely as it is with the schedule. After this year, I think the next earliest will be 2014 or 2015.


March 19th, 2012 at 10:38 AM ^

Just like nobody wins a PGA tournament on the first day, no football team makes the BCS "Championship" game in the fourth game of the year.  Unfortunately, though, the same thing holds true in football as in golf.  While you can't win any championships in the fourth game, you can take yourself out of consideration with a bad day.

I really like catching ND the week after they play state.  Usually, they expend all of their energy against Michigan and have none left for MSU.  Finally, MSU gets ND's full attention, and Michigan gets to play them after they have just expended a lot of energy against Sparty.

I don't like Michigan's chances against Alabama, but I like their chances to spank ND this year.


March 19th, 2012 at 10:48 AM ^

ND's offense is in a shambles. They lost the only guy they could depend on. They are probably going to be relying on a freshman QB. Brian Kelly has melted everyone's brain and the pressure is only going to increase for him.

I don't see how third year magic will save them. I think it is much more likely that the pressure of a make or break season for their coach kills them.


March 19th, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

MSU will have a good enough defense to beat the Irish in their house. MSU will have already been tested by Boise, and thus will know what it will take to beat ND. Although MSU's new QB will still be learning his position on the job, he will hit enough passes against ND's weak secondary to keep the defense honest. M WILL be undefeated and thus might be over-confident going into the game. It again will go down to the last few minutes before M's ground game wears down the ND front 7 and drives for the winning score.

blue note

March 19th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

Should be a pretty good game regardless of the record of either team. ND's front 7 and O line will be another challenge for M's revamped lines. The Alabama game will tell us a lot. Either way, I'd expect a close one.