Article on importance of UM vs. ND

Submitted by tomer on July 5th, 2018 at 12:31 PM

Some off-season fluff from Andy Staples. I figured it was worth sharing since there isn't a whole lot going on.

He posits that, while it is a big game, it could tell us very little about how either team will play the rest of the season. I thought it offered an interesting outside perspective on a game that will have people here skewing to one extreme or the other about this team.



July 5th, 2018 at 5:09 PM ^

Didn't we have two junior WRs and a junior TE who all got drafted after the next year? I like the potential of our receivers, but claiming we have more now than we had then seems like a stretch considering the fact that we had fewer TD passes than Navy last year. 


July 5th, 2018 at 5:06 PM ^

Yeah, that was what I thought last year before the MSU game and the Outback Bowl. I pray to God I'm wrong, and my rational brain says the issue will be fixed, but emotionally I'm in a "show me" mindset. Way too much weird ass stuff, especially since the 2016 Iowa game, has happened for me to have confidence in anything.

Arb lover

July 5th, 2018 at 12:39 PM ^

Thanks for sharing, but I don't know that he actually provided a perspective on the game other than to talk about teams from past years where game 1 turned out to not be as predictive as people thought.

The same article could have been written by a computer for any of the opening games out there by simply substituting names and coaching pictures.


July 5th, 2018 at 12:40 PM ^

If Michigan can’t move the ball or if Shea Patterson takes too many sacks and the Wolverines lose, the mood in Ann Arbor will zoom to DEFCON 1. 

You would think a couple people were already there actually, and this game is still about two months distant.

He's quite right - one game will not a season make, but a lot of people will make some unwarranted extrapolations all the same. That's every year though.


July 5th, 2018 at 3:39 PM ^

I mean I get what you're saying. It's not a conference loss. Etc etc. You're also assuming ND will be decent and not be an anchor. 

I feel like losing to a team with a QB who cant throw the ball when we should have a top 5 defense probably isn't the team you want to lose to. Plus the deflation of starting the season crawling from outside the top 25 doesn't exactly help gain momentum early. 

I would rather lose to a non msu/osu big ten team. Win out and it doesnt matter. You already know what it feels like to win and know what you need to do to not trip again. 


July 5th, 2018 at 12:41 PM ^

Even during the RR and Hoke years, the games in which we beat ND always (in retrospect) gave us such a sense of hope.

Beating ND would once again give me hope for the season. But like all the seasons for the last 10 years, it's going to come down to beating state so that we have a shot at winning the division. It's been a long 10 years since Carr retired - Carr beat the tar out of state consistently, and was 50/50 (or maybe a little bit better) against ND. I'd like a return to that, consistently beating the hell out of state and winning 50/50 against ND or whatever out of conference premier opponent we have for the year.

For all the times I've clicked on the board and the previews I've read, the results speak for themselves. It's been fun, but going our records against state and osu have been pretty awful. I would honestly trade a win against ND for a win against state. We absolutely must beat state this year, and the game is going to be (most likely) at night, and we play at their place. 

For that reason, I think the game against state is a bigger game for the season.


July 5th, 2018 at 1:25 PM ^

I look at it as a perception vs reality thing.

Public perception is the winner of this game gets the moniker of "Historically great team re-establishes itself again" in the national media and the loser has to contemplate if they'll ever win another meaningful game.

In reality while it's always great to beat your rival the first game of the season and a high-profile team like ND, a team can typically drop a game somewhere in the first 3 weeks of the season and it shouldn't haunt them too bad. Especially if it's not a conference game.

I totally expect us to win as it seems the pieces have finally fallen into place but if we do lose and lose close, we should be fine as long we recover soon after.



July 5th, 2018 at 12:54 PM ^

I always prefer to open with a “warm up” to start the season and get the kinks out.   A lot of improvement happens between game one and two.  

We do have a veteran team though and I believe NDs losses on the OL will hurt them early.   Especially against our D. 


July 5th, 2018 at 12:57 PM ^

I think the struggles UM had last season combined with the offseason heat they have been under will have them ready to play come Sep. 1. It’ll be tough but I am very confident UM wins this one 

Perkis-Size Me

July 5th, 2018 at 1:24 PM ^

Definitely a fair perspective. We won what were considered at the time to be huge games over ND in 2009, 2010, 2013, thought that was going to be what propelled the team forward to a huge year, and we proceeded to fall flat on our face each time. Same with ND in 2014 after they shut us out. Think they ended the year 7-5 or something close to that. 

Would winning this game to start off the year be a big positive? Absolutely. Would much rather take that than a loss. But it's not the end-all, be-all if we lose. Night game in the first game of the year against a rival, very likely breaking in a new QB, along with an offense that has question marks just about everywhere except RB. Michigan could absolutely win this game, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them lose. Even if they do, all their goals for the season would still be on the table. They'd need to win out, sure. But you can recover from an early season loss. Especially if ND turns in a great season. 

UM Indy

July 5th, 2018 at 1:43 PM ^

Aside from the 2006 game, I'd say as a general rule we don't play very well at Notre Dame.  Confident in the defense.  But the offense has to show up and carry its fair share of the load.    


July 5th, 2018 at 2:00 PM ^

I think the bigger issue than playing away at ND, which is only 2-3 hours away and with a sizeable UM crowd in attendance, is it's usually one of the first games of the season and we're far from a finished product.

Even if we had a spring game this year, I'm not sure if anyone has an idea what the offense will look like. Harbaugh isn't the most revealing coach when it comes to access and the media. I figure we'll get a few videos from and some twitter vids from the local press but that's about it. The submarine both giveth and it taketh away.


July 5th, 2018 at 5:13 PM ^

"Even if we had a spring game this year, I'm not sure if anyone has an idea what the offense will look like."

And this is a good thing. ND will have no idea what's coming at them w zero tape on the Shea Patterson led UM Offense. JH is a detail freak and those 4 hour practices will have the O far ahead of where you'd expect in game one. 

But what do we know about ND? What are their expected strengths and weaknesses?


July 5th, 2018 at 8:46 PM ^

As a general rule, you're absolutely right. 

Also as a general rule, stupid crap tends to happen in that knockoff of the big house.  ND has a scored a touchdown against us leaving the ball behind on the 2 yard line, they scored a TD on us when their receiver dropped the ball before prancing in the end zone, Ty Law got flagged for interference on 3rd & goal despite making no contact with the Domer receiver, a ref measured for a Michigan 1st down using an index card...this stupid crap happens down there ALL THE TIME.

I'm dreading the thought of this being the first game.  I wish we had a cupcake in week one just to work out some kinks. 

Ron Utah

July 5th, 2018 at 2:05 PM ^

So many unknowns in this game:

  • Notre Dame will have a new DC in Clark Lea, who replaces the excellent Mike Elko (left for TAMU).  The defense looked awful in the spring game, which is meaningless
  • Michigan is likely to have a more modern offense.  Normally I'd count the claims of spreading the offense more as off-season palaver, but seeing Michigan's recruiting focus change (fewer TE/FB types and more slot backs) signals that the offense is very likely to evolve.
  • Shea Patterson
  • ND's O-Line lost two great players.  They will still be good, but they'll also be facing one of the top D-Lines in the country AND a Don Brown defense that will offer plenty of exotic blitzes.  This match-up might decide the game.

Ultimately, Michigan is on the road, at night, against a quality opponent.  That is a brutal way to open the season.  If we did not have what could be the best defense in the country, I'd say we were in big trouble.  Even with that great defense, this will be a big challenge.

And, as the article correctly points out, it really won't be a good indicator of where the season is headed.  But for momentum, recruiting, and the team's confidence, it's still a very big game.


July 5th, 2018 at 2:25 PM ^

Unfortunately the ND Michigan game has given absolutely no indication of either teams success based on who wins the game. Only a few times in the last 20 years did the winner have a decent season. It’s more due to the fact that both teams have been average since 2000. Too many up and down years not enough consistency. Everything changes this year....I hope


July 5th, 2018 at 2:48 PM ^

I think the game is more important to Notre Dame than Michigan for playoff aspirations (and more important for the winner than the loser).

Looking at both teams' schedules, Michigan ends their season with: vs. Wisconsin@MSUvs. PSU; @Rutgers; vs. Indiana; @OSU. If Michigan came out of that part of their schedule 5-1, it is quite probable that they would be heading to the Big Ten Championship Game -- and a chance for a playoff spot. I'm not sure a first week loss to ND really changes that analysis. On the other hand, Notre Dame finishes their schedule: vs. Pitt; vs. Navy; @Northwestern; vs. FSU; vs. Syracuse; @USC. Other than @USC, none of those games really offer Notre Dame the chance at redemption that Michigan has at the back-end of their schedule. As a result, I think this game is much more important for Notre Dame.

I also think that, as a general rule, early season match-ups always matter more for the winner than the loser. You can lose to, for example, a Virginia Tech early in the season, and win your way back into the playoffs. It certainly means you have a narrower road to the playoffs, but an early season loss to a quality opponent is not going to sink the season. On the other hand, an early season victory against a ranked opponent gives you a margin of error later in the season.


July 5th, 2018 at 3:28 PM ^

Face it, this year in particular starting off the season with a win over anyone, and particularly ND, is a huge lift.  With the way the season ended, there is a strong need to flip the script quickly on winning big games, and winning big games against quality opponents on the road.

With the talent on defense, and the growth that should occur with the offensive side of the ball, they need to pull off this win in SB.


July 5th, 2018 at 3:54 PM ^

With the gauntlet we play this season I think this game is important, but wont affect our chances at the playoffs. Too many big games follow this one that we will easily control our own destiny even if we falter against ND. 


July 6th, 2018 at 12:53 AM ^

I would be nice to beat ND and we should, for pay back about the big blowout loss under Hoke. Plus, this game should be played in Ann Arbor.


July 6th, 2018 at 12:59 AM ^

If we go 10-2, the only two loses you would want would be against ND and WI, since winning the remainders of the games would allow us to win the B1G east and perhaps a rematch in the B1G championship game. Though, I would like to see this team win a big road game in South Bend. I think it is possible unless the OL is a total train wreck? But our D will be giving ND all sorts of problems.