Much improved irish beat michigan, maim coach weis

In a game marred by turnovers, flukey plays, and a sideline exit that toppled mammoth head coach Charlie Weis into an air-cast and crutches, Notre Dame braved the elements, dug deep, and beat hated rival Michigan 35-17 on a Saturday that was highlighted by an emotional tribute to the 1988 National Championship team.  The victory makes the Irish 2-0 on the season, and almost certainly silenced any doubt that this team is not only improved from last year, but also resilient enough to win games as an underdog.  A BCS game is out of the question, but it isn’t too early to speculate an invitation to a Pre-New Years Day Bowl Game in ’08. 

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The offense continues to progress, and quarterback Jimmy Clausen’s 2 touchdown passes helped build confidence in both himself, and the young Irish receiving corps.  A torrential downpour dominated most of the game, but the running backs, most notably Robert Hughes, did an outstanding job protecting the football, and securing the early lead built off Wolverine miscues.

Wideout Golden Tate continues to dazzle as a budding playmaker, snaring 4 balls for 127 yards and a touchdown.  He has established himself as Clausen’s favorite target, but don’t expect the offense to click on all cylinders until big man Duval Kamara is used more in the passing attack. 

Notre Dame’s defense gave up almost 400 yards to Michigan, but made key stops at the right moments to prevent a Wolverine comeback.  Rich Rodriguez’s new spread offense is a work in progress, and the parade of fumbles has to make the folks in Ann Arbor uneasy about the upcoming Big Ten schedule.  The Irish will face physical Michigan State back Javon Ringer this Saturday, and he will surely spearhead a rushing force much stronger than the Wolverine one led by freshman scat-back Sam McGuffie last week.  This will be the defense’s first true test of the season.

The Spartan game will turn out like many others have over the last decade, with a flat Irish team getting behind early, and not gathering enough steam to complete a rally.  Playing in East Lansing won’t help much either.  We drop to 2-1, but still ultimately control our own destiny to finish 7-5.

Prediction: Michigan State 31    Notre Dame 10

GO IRISH

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