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September 10, 2010 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, September 10, 2010 - 9

Breakdown: Robinson
will be X-factor vs. ND

Irish aerial attack could
pose problems for Blue

By RYAN KARTJE
Daily Sports Editor
After a record-setting performance
against Connecticut last week in a 30-10
victory, all eyes are on sophomore quarter-
back Denard Robinson.
And against the Fighting Irish this
week, Robinson's first start on the road, the
speedy quarterback will be keyed on early
and often, leaving the rest of the Michigan
offense to pick up some slack.
Safe to say, it should get interesting in
South Bend.
MICHIGAN RUN OFFENSE VS.
NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE:
With 197 yards on the ground from the
quarterback position, the Wolverines look
like one of the strongest rush offenses in
the country at the moment.
The Irish run defense is definitely better
than Connecticut's, though, boasting line-
backer Mante Te'o, who should be playing
on Sundays soon. Te'o's job on Saturday
will be to stop Robinson in his tracks. But
Robinson should be one of the fastest run-
ners Te'o and the rest of the Irish see all
season.
Rodriguez should also be able to use
junior Mike Shaw and sophomore Vincent
Smith more effectively against the Irish
than theydid last week against Connecticut,
since much of Notre Dame's rush defense
will be focused on stopping Robinson.
EDGE: Michigan
MICHIGAN PASS OFFENSE VS.
NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE
Purdue passed 42 times on the Irish last
weekend, completing 31, but Boilermaker
signal caller Robert Marve also threw two
interceptions. Whether that's a reflection
of the Notre Dame secondary remains to be
seen.
The Wolverines will most likely get top
wideout Roy Roundtree for this game, as
the injury report says he's probable for Sat-
urday's matchup. Roundtree's presence in
the slot could be a huge coup for Michigan,
despite the fact that he was a non-factor
last week. If he plays like he's expected
to, that won't be the case as Robinson will
definitely be in situations that require him
to throw more often.
It's hard to judge the Michigan pass
game on last week's win, considering the
Huskies spent most of the game waiting for
Robinson to burst into the open field. But
he did make some huge throws under pres-
sure, so expect to see the same sort of thing
this week, just more frequently.
EDGE: Michigan
NOTRE DAME RUSH OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN RUSH DEFENSE
Rodriguez said earlier this week that
he's just as concerned about the Irish's
two-headed rushing machine as he is about
their talented aerial attack.
Armando Allen and Cierre Wood com-
bined for 151 rush yards last week and
both are pretty electrifying in space. They
should force the Wolverines' defense to
focus on good tackling again this week.
The rush defense against Connecticut
was mediocre at best with the Michigan
linebackers disappearing for long periods
of time, allowing Jordan Todman to rack
up a respectable 109 yards.
The Notre Dame offensive line is still
extremely young, which Michigan could
take advantage of, but the Wolverines still
have a long way to go in this category. With

two quality running backs probably getting
into space, the Irish should take the cake in
this category - but not by that much.
EDGE: Notre Dame
NOTRE DAME PASS OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN PASS DEFENSE
This is where it could get ugly for the
Wolverines.
Dayne Crist is a young quarterback, but
he showed a lot of poise in the pocket last
week against Purdue. The huge advantage
for the Irish, however, is in Crist's arsenal.
Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph, a possible
All-American tandem at wideout and tight
end, will give the young Michigan second-
ary huge fits this weekend.
J.T. Floyd will go head-to-head with
Notre Dame's Michael, who should be
Floyd's most difficult matchup of the year.
Here's betting it doesn't go well.
Rudolph, a definite NFL prospect,
should also give the Wolverine lineback-
ers a lot of trouble, as he provides matchup
problems for nearly every team he plays
against. Seniors Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mou-
ton will most likely be given the task of
matching up with Rudolph, and if they can
slow him down, it will say a lot about their
development.
EDGE: Notre Dame
SPECIAL TEAMS
After last weekend's special teams
were a wash due to the weather, the game
in South Bend should be a good gauge of
where this team stands.
Brendan Gibbons should rebound from
his performance last weekend, but it would
be a mistake to overlook the Notre Dame
crowd, which could be one of the loudest
the Wolverines see this season. The Irish's
kicker David Ruffer, on the other hand,
knocked three through the uprights last
week. Advantage: Notre Dame.
Jeremy Gallon should also bounce back
from his fumble on a poorly planned punt
return, and Rodriguez insists he should
still be as electric as advertised. But with
an inexperienced group on special teams
in a hostile environment where a game-
winning field goal may be needed, it's usu-
ally safe to say the edge goes to the home
team.
EDGE: Notre Dame
INTANGIBLES
As always, there willibe tempers flying in
South Bend for this rivalry matchup. And
after the last time Michigan came to Notre
Dame, with torrential downpours and a
whole host of fumbles, the Wolverines will
be eager to prove themselves.
That's not even mentioning last year's
amazing, Tate Forcier-led comeback in
which Greg Mathews caught the game-
winner to end an incredible drive. That
game may have changed the course of
Notre Dame's season, and they sure do
remember it.
So with both teams in very similar posi-
tions as far as the rivalry goes, home field
advantage could be a big decider in this
matchup. That is, if the weather doesn't act
up again.
Robinson is the X-factor here, and if he
can overcome the noise on the field, the
other intangibles won't matter. He will.
EDGE: Michigan
FINAL SCORE:
Michigan31, Notre Dame 30

By JOE STAPLETON
Daily SportsEditor
What a difference a week makes.
Seven days ago, Michigan fans didn't
even know who was going to start at
quarterback.
Now, fans know the Michigan at
Wolverine they have
under center, and it's Notre Dame
no secret that he's one Matchup:
of the most explosive Michigan 1-0;
players in the country. Notre Dame 1-0
That player, sopho- When: Satur-
more Denard Robin- day 3:30 P.M.
son, has undoubtedly Where: Notre
been the focus of the Dame Stadium
Irish gameplan this TV/Radio:
week. But Notre Dame NBC
offers a challenge to
the Michigan defense
that could be just as potent as Shoelace.
Notre Dame junior receiver Michael
Floyd is one of the premier wideouts in
the country and terrorized Michigan's
secondary last year. He tallied seven
catches for 131 yards and a touchdown,
before going down with an injury that
derailed his season.
Containing him this year won't be any
easier.
"It's going to be a huge challenge,"
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said
during a teleconference on Wednesday.
"He's so dangerous, particularly on those
deep balls. He's got the size and ability to
go up and get those, even when he's cov-
ered. That's what he did against us last
year and he's done it against everybody
he's played against, really."
Floyd presents a significant test in the
passing game, but the Irish running game
is arguably even more dangerous.
Notre Dame boasts a loaded backfield,
with senior Armando Allen, who got the
majority of the carries during the game
against Purdue last weekend. He shared
snaps with talented sophomore Cierre
Wood, who didn't play his freshman year
but wasone of the nation's top running
back recruits out of high school.

FILE PHOTO/Dai
Notre Dame senior wideout Michael Floyd (pictured here) was injured against Michigan last year.

"Who's got us concerned are the run-
ning backs," Rodriguez said. "They are
very elusive and very quick but run with
a lot of power."
For the first time in a few years, the
Wolverines will go into their game
against Notre Dame with a much more
confident situation at quarterback than
the Irish. Notre Dame signal-caller
Dayne Crist saw his first significantgame
action on Saturday and is playing on a
surgically-repaired knee. Still, he looked
solid in his starting debut, completing 19
of 26 passes for 205 yards and a touch-
down.
The matchups on the field will be fun
to watch, but it will be the matchup on the
sidelines could be even more interesting.
First-year Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly
has followed a very similar path to the
pinnacle of college football coaching as
Rodriguez. Both started as head coaches
of small schools, both are spread offense
pioneers, and both now find themselves
at the very top of their professions.
"He had great success at Grand Valley
(State University) and everywhere he's

been," Rodriguez said. "And I've been
fortunate enough to have started the
same way. Sometimes when you're at the
smaller level you have to be more creative
... Now we're both at great institutions
that have great tradition, great fan fol-
lowing and great interest."
Kelly runs a pass-oriented spread,
while the Rodriguez spread is more run-
oriented.
Both coaches used to coach in the
Big East and did play against each other
once - Rodriguez's West Virginia team
beat Kelly's Cincinnati Bearcats 28-23 in
2007.
"I've kind of followed his path, so to
speak, what he's done in the last couple
years," Rodriguez said. "And I've got a
lot of respect for his ability to coach and
build a program."
INJURY NOTES: While redshirt
sophomore wide receiver Roy Roundtree
is listed as probable, freshman spur
Carvin Johnson will be out tomorrow
with a sprained knee. Redshirt junior
wide receiver Junior Hemingway is list-
ed as doubtful.

Around the Big Ten: Pryor to be tested in week two

By ALEX HERMANN
Daily Sports Writer
When ESPN's Todd McShay gets on
Sportscenter to talk about Ohio State
quarterback Terrelle Pryor's improved
throwing mechanics and virtual trans-
formation into a traditional "drop-
back" quarterback, you shouldn't buy
tl -hype.
One tremendous game against Ore-
gon in the Rose Bowl last January com-
bined with a strong performance against
Marshall in the team's opener is hardly
enough evidence to project Pryor as a
first-day talent in the NFL at anything
but wideout.
That said, the second-ranked Buckeyes
are the Big Ten frontrunner for a reason.
And even though Pryor may never devel-
op into an adequate next-level signal call-
er, he certainly has all the right physical
tools to lead a team as talented as Ohio
State to another conference champion-
ship.
Pryor's next big test? No. 12 Miami, a
program undergoing a renaissance of its
own.
I don't know what's more likely - the
Hurricanes' return as an elite program

in the next half decade or Pryor's shot at
being a weekly starter in the NFL.
But one thing is for certain - ESPN's
hype of this particular matchup is far
from overblown.
NO.18 PENN STATE (1-0) AT NO.1
ALABAMA (1-0)
It's hard to justify No. 18 Penn State's
lofty ranking with true freshman Rob-
ert Bolden at quarterback. And unfortu-
nately for the Nittany Lions, the schedule
affords little time to break in their young
gun as they head to Tuscaloosa to play
top-ranked Alabama.
But the Crimson Tide have a handi-
cap of their own in the backfield, with
Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Mark
Ingram out of the lineup on Saturday, giv-
ing Penn State fans some hope of acquir-
ing a win in SEC country.
And take it from someone who would
like nothing more than to see Alabama
coach Nick Saban in the fetal position
on the sidelines, sucking his thumb and
sobbing after Joe Pa's team unexpectedly
puts a whipping on his boys.

Unfortunately for us in the valiant
minority, it's not going to happen.
MICHIGAN STATE (1-0) VS.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC (1-0)
Someone, somewhere screwed the
pooch on this one.
First off, who decided to have this
game at Ford Field in Detroit?
Second, whose idea was it to charge
ridiculously high prices?
Michigan State, a middling program in
the conference, isn't in a position to give
up a home game to play Florida Atlantic.
I can't believe many seniors in East Lan-
sing are happy about giving up one of
their precious football Saturdays.
Ford Field has sold just 25,000 tick-
ets as of yesterday, causing local radio
personality and journalist Terry Foster
to call the game an "embarrassment" to
Michigan State on his blog.
Not that I'm inclined to agree with
Foster often, and especially on matters
involving college football, but we cer-
tainly agree here, and the biggest losers
are the Spartan students.

e STAFF PICKS
The Daily football writers do their
best to predict what happens
in the 2010 football season.

Nicole
Auerbach

Ryan
Kartje

Tim Joe Guest Picker:
Rohan Stapleton " John Hurlahe

ak&&

Michigan (+4) at Notre Dame Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan
No.1 Alabama (-11.5) vs. No.18 Penn State Alabama Alabama Penn State Alabama Penn State
No.2 Ohio State (-9.5) vs. No.12 Miami (Fla.) Miami (Fla.) Ohio State Miami (Fla.) Ohio State Miami (Fla.)
No. 4 TCU (NS) vs. Tennessee Tech TCU TCU TCU TCU TCU
No.5 Texas (-28.5) vs. Wyoming Wyoming Texas Texas Wyoming Wyoming
No. 6 Nebraska (-28) vs. Idaho Idaho Idaho Idaho Idaho Idaho
No. 7 Oregon (-12.5) at Tennessee Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon
No.8 Florida (-17) vs. South Florida ' Florida South Florida South Florida Florida Florida
No.9 Iowa (14) vs. Iowa State Iowa State Iowa Iowa Iowa Iowa
No.10 Oklahoma (-8.5) vs. No.17 Florida St. Oklahoma Oklahoma Florida State Florida State Florida State
No.11 Wisconsin (-35) vs. San Jose St. Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin San Jose State Wisconsin
No.13 Virginia Tech (NS) vs. James Madison Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
No.14 Arkansas (-34) at UL-Monroe Arkansas Arkansas Arkansas Arkansas Arkansas
No.15 Ga. Tech. (-12) at Kansas Ga. Tech Ga. Tech. Ga. Tech Ga. Tech Ga. Tech
No.16USC(-18.5) vs. Virginia Virginia USC USC USC USC
No.19 Louisiana St. (-11) at Vanderbilt Louisiana St. Louisiana St. Louisiana St. Vanderbilt Louisiana St.
No. 20Utah (-23) vs. UNLV Utah Utah Utah Utah UNLV
No. 21 Auburn (-3.5) at Mississippi St. Auburn Auburn Auburn Auburn Auburn
No. 22 Georgia (+2.5) at No. 24 South Carolina Georgia Georgia South Carolina Georgia Georgia
No. 23 West Virginia (-13.5) at Marshall West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia
No. 25Stanford (-6) at UCLA Stanford Stanford Stanford UCLA UCLA
Michigan St. (-28) at Florida Atlantic Florida Atlantic Michigan State Florida Atlantic Florida Atlantic Michigan State
Purdue (NS) vs. Western Illinois Purdue Purdue Purdue Purdue Purdue
To apply to be a guest picker, e-mail naauer@umich.edu. If you're chosen and can beat at least two of us, you'll stay on for another week. The longest tenured guest picker will get a prize at the end of the season.

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