Michigan and Notre Dame are pretty comparable talent wise and that makes this a really tough game to forecast. Turnovers have been an issue for Michigan and could pop up again because of the weather and because the Irish have a propensity for causing fumbles. Both defenses have been solid and both offenses have a lot of potential. This one is going to be interesting and has a realistic chance to play out in several different ways.
Senior quarterback Shea Patterson takes care of the ball and does let the weather or the Irish affect his ball security. He's cleaned up his fumble issues as of late but it could always rear its ugly head in a game like tonight's. After playing his best football of the year in the second half of the Penn State game, Patterson builds upon that and really finds a rhythm agains Notre Dame. For the second week in a row, Patterson plays confidently and keeps the ball more on zone reads at the right times and keeps the Irish defense on its heels.
Patterson airs it out down the field to his talented wide receivers and all of them make a big play. The receivers have a physical edge against just about everyone and it plays out that way against the Irish.
The offensive line also played its best game against Penn State last week so they'll be ready for the Irish front. They move the line of scrimmage downfield and allow the Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins to get it going.
The defensive line has now been dominant against good teams in Iowa and Penn State and they keep it rolling against the Irish. Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book has been tested but Don Brown's scheme coupled with U-M's athletes will make things tougher than any opponent he's faced. Brown also continues to utilize Jordan Glasgow and Cameron McGrone in a way that puts constant pressure on Book. The front seven's pressure not only affects Book, but keeps Notre Dame's running backs in check as well.
Freshman Daxton Hill didn't play enough against Penn State but that changes today against Notre Dame. He plays a lot and tries to neutralize any potential mismatches involving U-M safeties. Sophomore receiver Braden Lenzy is a speed demon and if I was Notre Dame, I'd try to use him like Penn State used KJ Hamler. Michigan will be ready for that and deploys its speedy five-star freshman to take away the big play. Michigan's star corners, Lavert Hill and Ambry Thomas, do a great job against the other receivers just like they did in Happy Valley making Notre Dame's offense ineffective overall.
We see an approach and a level of execution that resembles the Iowa and Wisconsin games as well as the first half of the Penn State game. Patterson again doesn't look comfortable, gets happy feet and wheels out of the pocket when he has time to stay and diagnose the defense. He also refuses to keep the ball on zone reads repeatedly again resulting in stalled drives, short possessions and missed opportunities for touchdowns.
As far as the rushing attack goes, it looks stale and without a goal. Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins both struggle to get it going, especially on inside zone runs, yet the staff keeps dialing them up. Michigan's offensive line has trouble with Notre Dame's offensive line, which makes it tough for the running backs to find room and also keeps Patterson on his heels on passing plays.
Michigan's front four and linebackers are handled by Notre Dame's solid offensive line allowing Book, who has proven to be a serviceable runner, to move the chains and keep plays alive. He's not quite the runner Penn State's Sean Clifford is, who scored a touchdown on the ground against U-M last week, but he can keep a defense honest.
Reminiscent of the Wisconsin game, Michigan's linebacker play out of position and allow Tony Jones and Jafar Armstrong to get it going. That running game, combined with Book's ability to run on broken plays and designed reads makes it a long day for U-M's linebackers and secondary players. That success also makes it tough for U-M to stay at home on play action passes, giving receivers like Chase Claypool and Chris Finke, along with stud tight end Cole Kmet, to get loose and make plays down the field.
How do you see the game playing out? Can Michigan make a statement with a big win over Notre Dame? Comment below!!!