Week 1 of the college football season is now in the books and despite each school’s blowout victories, both Notre Dame and Michigan still have some unanswered questions going into next week’s matchup in Ann Arbor.
Michigan totaled 31 points against Western Michigan in the first half alone. True freshman quarterback Tate Forcier looked like a mature upperclassmen in his first college game. If there was any question as to which of the three quarterbacks (Forcier, freshman Denard Robinson, and junior Nick Sheridan) should be the starter this season, it was answered right away by Forcier.
Although I believe that Forcier is the man to lead the Michigan offense, Denard Robinson will be a huge factor this season. Although he fumbled his first snap under center, he was able to turn the botched play into a 43 yard touchdown run. Having two weapons at quarterback will make UM much more difficult to defend against.
The offense and defense both looked considerably faster than last year’s team. Compared to this year, last season’s UM team seemed like they were running in slow motion. Historically, Michigan has always had big 300 lb. lineman on the field. This year, there is only one starter that tips the scales over the 300 lb. mark, and he is only 304.
One thing that did disappoint me was the second half. It seemed like Michigan went into cruise control after halftime. Granted, they did have a 31 point lead on the Broncos and the game was essentially over by halftime. However, this is still a young team that is learning a still fairly new offense. They played well in the first half, but it by no means gives them an excuse for taking the second half off.
Notre Dame arrives in Ann Arbor fresh off a 35-0 drubbing of Nevada. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw 4 touchdowns to give the Irish and Coach Charlie Weis a much needed win to start the season. Weis has been on the “hot seat” ever since last season which saw the Irish finish 6-6 after starting the season 4-1.
When Weis took over the coaching reins in 2005, he seemed to have the “luck of the Irish” by leading Notre Dame to records of 9-2 and 10-2. However, the last two years have seen them amass a mediocre 9 wins against 15 losses.
One question that Notre Dame fans still is if quarterback Jimmy Clausen is the man to lead them back to a BCS bowl game. Yes, Clausen threw for an impressive 315 yards against Nevada on Saturday. One thing to keep in mind is that Nevada was last in the country in pass defense last year. Clausen needs to prove that he can put up those types of numbers against a top flight defense.
Which team has more to lose? Who needs a win more, Rich Rodriguez or Charlie Weis? Is Tate Forcier the real deal for the Wolverines? Will Jimmy Clausen finally step up and lead the Irish back to national prominence?
These questions will all be answered this Saturday when the two most successful football programs in the country take to the field in Ann Arbor.