Last Season: 12-1
Top 5 Returning Starters: DT Louis Nix, LB Prince Shembo, DE Stephon Tuitt, WR T.J. Jones, WR DaVaris Daniels
Key Losses: QB Everett Golson, RBs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, LB Manti Te’o, TE Tyler Eifert, WR Robby Toma
Under the Lights 2, does it get any better?
Michigan welcomes their rivals* from South Bend for one last go-aroudn in Ann Arbor as the rivalry* will take a hiatus after next season. Though it is sad to see this rivalry* go away, the show must go on.
After coming off a 12 win season last year and a 22-point victory over Temple week one, Notre Dame is looking to return to glory with another successful season under head coach Brian Kelly. Both teams will face one of their biggest challenges this season when they square off Saturday night.
* = Not a traditional rivalry according to Irish coach Brian Kelly.
One of the biggest losses the Irish faced in the offseason was the ineligibility of their quarterback Everett Golson. Needless to say, it will be difficult to replace the production Golson provided with Tommy Rees as your back-up. Though experienced, Rees is not a runner, so it dulls down the Irish
offense. The Irish lost their best running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood due to graduation and will also have to replace production there. Look for George Atkinson III to lead the running backs.To continue the replacing production theme, someone has to step up and provide reception help after Tyler Eifert was lost to the NFL last season. T.J. Jones, who caught 50 passes last season, should be Rees’ top target this season.
Losing someone like Manti Te’o will obviously hurt the Irish. But, this doesn’t mean that the defense will suffer. It could be the opposite. After finishing last year number two in the nation in scoring and number seven against the run, there is potential there for another “elite” defensive season for the Irish.
Returning to the Irish is a formidable defensive line highlighted by Lous Nix and Stephon Tuitt. Together, they are arguably the best duo in college football right now. It will definitely be a difficult task stopping the two of them which might render the running game ineffective. Returning for the linebacking group is Prince Shembo. Shembo finished 2012 with 51 tackles, and 7.5 sacks. He could very well be the anchor for this very talented defense.
This game can go either way at this point. I am not convinced Michigan will run away with the game, nor am I convinced Notre Dame will either. Considering the trend of this game for the past few seasons, the game will be close and decided right at the very end. I give Michigan the advantage solely because of location and event. Under the lights at Michigan Stadium would be tough for any away team to come in and steal a win. We saw Notre Dame almost do it in 2011 and we could almost see them do it again in 2013. Though, in the end, I don’t think the offense has what it takes to best Michigan’s defense. Both defenses will keep their teams in the game.
Last Season: 12-1