October 15, 2010

Week 7 Pick: Notre Dame - Western Michigan

Dan: Notre Dame

Not a lot of time or interest in analyzing this game in depth. The first stretch of mediocre (read: bad) games for ND, I will still tune it to watch this weekend. However, I will not be happy about it. A couple quick thoughts:

- The spread, (currently -24) seems high to me. We have not shown the killer instinct necessary to beat a team by four touchdowns. Throw in a completely placid and half-full stadium and you have the recipe for an incredibly boring ho-hum 23-13 game. Over under for punts: 12.

- Is Rudolph’s injury a blessing in disguise? This may assure his return next year and we weren’t utilizing him that well this year anyway. Maybe next year with a year under his belt Crist becomes the quarterback we were hoping for and he can better utilize Rudolph.

 - What are the chances I spend most of the afternoon watching that Arkansas – Auburn game instead?

Notre Dame 23 Western Michigan 13

Jeremy: Notre Dame

Hopefully, this game will be “over” by the end of the 1st quarter.  I still have nightmares about the SDSU game to open the ’08 season.  This may be another contest where fans will have to search high and low to take away some nuggets of optimism, since I doubt we’ll learn much about the starters.

A few things to keep an eye on:

-          Making a more concerted effort to run the ball.  Armando Allen will probably be a game-time decision, so not only should we see whether Kelly tries to “pound it” on the Broncs, but we should also get a preview of what’s to come in the Irish rushing attack.  Would like to see both Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray get about 10 or so carries each in this game. 

-          Finding a replacement for Kyle Rudolph.  By all accounts, this will probably be Tyler Eifert, who the coaches have consistently praised for his play-making ability, particularly in the passing game.  Rudolph’s injury may also allow some more PT for Bobby Burger, the seemingly forgotten TE/H-back who might be the best blocker on the team.

-          Consistent production from the backups on the DL.  Particularly from Sean Cwynar, who, along with Louis Nix, will be called on to anchor the DL next season.

-          My country for a pass rush.  Somebody, anybody, generate some consistent pressure on the QB.

-          Backups in the secondary.  Particularly Lo Wood and Danny McCarthy. 

ND 38  WMU 17

Jimmy:  Notre Dame

The day has come for this dreaded matchup.  It feels like the Irish are sinking to I-AA levels of competition simply because the usual cupcakes we’re accustomed to come under the guise of a service academy or fellow private/Catholic schools (Rice, SMU, Rutgers – though I suppose the state school of New Jersey doesn’t exactly fit this description.  A quick Wiki search says the Rutgers started as a private school, established by the Dutch Reformed Church, so I stand corrected).  Western Michigan is the first directional state school on the schedule since…well…Western Michigan in 1920 (a 42-0 triumph, in case you were wondering).  The administration and coaching staff, to their credit, simply have avoided these matchups.  What makes things more laughable is the Broncos, a mere 75 miles away, couldn’t even sell their allotment of tickets.  Is there that little support for the football team?  Maybe everyone in Kalamazoo has visited campus at some point or another.  Let’s hope it’s another 90 years before this blip appears back on the radar.  

In a week bearing more bad than good news for the team, this is a welcome opportunity to beat up on an inferior foe and get needed reps for guys who will factor into the 2nd half of this season.  Crist’s learning curve behind center requires more fine-tuning (and #2 on the depth chart could use a few productive series as well).  Finding a new safety valve to replace Rudolph is a priority in the weeks ahead.  Cierre Wood and Bob Hughes will give Armando a needed break.  And wouldn’t it be nice to see the defense shed the bend but don’t break label once and for all this week.  Lest I forget, the student section should get a quality push-up workout to start their Fall Break.

As you can imagine, Brian Kelly has some history against Western Michigan, going 2-1 while at Central Michigan and 1-0 against them at Cincinnati.  He’s outscored the Broncos 106-83 in those four games.  I expect at least as wide a margin of victory tomorrow as Kelly sets the tone for the stretch run.

ND 48 WMU 17

Matt: Notre Dame

No analysis needed. Just go out there, blow them off the field, and then never allow a MAC team back in the stadium in mid October.

ND A lot  WMU A little

Mike: Notre Dame

I won’t bother to analyze the various matchups since I obviously haven’t watched Western Michigan play this year (or ever, for that matter).  The line on the game is 22.5, which seems quite high considering that Notre Dame is only 10 points superior to WMU according to the Sagarin ratings.  Phil Steele picked Western Michigan to win the Western Division of the MAC, so ND will have to play with some degree of competence to win comfortably.

Having said that, I hope this game becomes a rout early so that some of the younger players can gain some game experience.  I would also love to see some sort of enhanced commitment to the running game, which has been effective in extremely limited doses.  Although I believe that the cultivation of a top flight defense is the ultimate key, in my opinion, to a Notre Dame return to prominence, Kelly would certainly improve his odds of succeeding by developing a reliable ground game.  Probably a pipe dream, but a man can dream, right?

Notre Dame 34 Western Michigan 24

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