With the Charlie Weis era having ended in South Bend, it's on to Brian Kelly … will the former Grand Valley, Central Michigan and Cincinnati head coach prove to be the real man of genius at Notre Dame?
Or, better put, will the ND administration look brilliant for hiring a coach Michigan … heck, even Michigan Agricultural … wouldn't touch?
With Kelly's skeletons (whatever they may be) safely protected by Notre Dame's array of ghosts, he'll be given every opportunity to succeed in South Bend the way everyone not named Tyrone Willingham was before him. He's got Lou "I've picked ND to go undefeated every year since I left" Holtz firmly on the bandwagon predicting a 10- or 11-win season, a championship-starved fan base behind him … now he just needs to win.
That and shut former quarterback Joe Montana up before he exposes any other fraudulent traditions/memories Irish fans hold sacred.
Joking aside, Kelly has the potential to be the best Irish head coach since George O'Leary, and the talent to win big in South Bend … eventually. Beat Michigan and Notre Dame should be favored in every game until the year ender at USC.
Congratulations to Jon Chait, who was closest on margin of victory in last week's opener with Connecticut … but so far off on the score he joins the also-rans in finishing a distance second (with Josh Helmholdt bringing up the rear). The plaque for the alternates … well, you know.
This week's winner receives a copy of Joe Montana's book Rudy: Better as the Leprechaun Mascot and a job in marketing at Detroit's Ford Field to replace the guy who scheduled Saturday's Michigan State - FAU match-up (good seats still available! Check the coupon on the back of any package of Charmin two-ply for special deals).
Chris Balas: D-Rob will get most of the publicity heading into this game, but G-Rob and his defense should be the real focus. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson earns a gold star if receiver Michael Floyd is held in check … meaning under 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Notre Dame 31, Michigan 23
John Borton: Notre Dame snapped up the entire Miracle-Gro supply from Indiana, Ohio and Illinois in an effort to grow its grass thigh high for Denard Robinson. The Irish also appealed to the skies (and beyond) for Saturday afternoon rain, and so far, the answer appears to be yes. No matter. "Shoelace" Robinson might leave a Velcro-fastened cleat or two behind in the long stuff, but he'll also leave his mark.
Michigan 38, Notre Dame 31
Michael Spath: So "Rudy" was fake according to former Irish quarterback Joe Montana. What's next? Learning that Notre Dame was actually founded by Quakers? Maybe the Golden Dome is actually bronze? With their world crumbling around them the Blue and Gold will need even more "luck of the Irish" … wait, that's a ruse too? Sheesh, ND is in trouble now.
Michigan 27, Notre Dame 21
Josh Helmholdt: My only reliable prediction this week is that another NCAA record will fall. Last week was total attendance... this week is shortest amount of time required to complete a game. With Brian Kelly and Rich Rodriguez directing their offenses, Tom Hammond may as well do this game solo. There will be not time for color and Hammond will sound like an auctioneer trying to unload a Kirk Cousins sweat towel to a room full of swooning Spartans.
Huddles? We don't need no stinkin' huddles!
Notre Dame 31, Michigan 27
Andy Reid: Outlined against a blue, gray September sky, Denard Robinson will ride again. That's right -- turning the echoes against themselves, in South Bend no less, every Wolverine's dream. If these thunderstorms the Weather Channel keepsblathering about come to fruition, Irish quarterback Dayne Crist will not be able to stand in the pocket and launch deep ball after deep ball to Michael Floyd, who otherwise should have no problem finding wide-open greenery against Michigan's questionable secondary.
But it shouldn't affect the ground game, where D-Rob will run roughshod for the second week in a row, turning Michigan football fever up another notch after two consecutive impressive wins.
Michigan 31, Notre Dame 27
Jonathan Chait: I've thought all along Michigan would handily defeat UConn and then lose to Notre Dame. I still think so. Reasons:
1. Notre Dame has recruited a lot of talent that's no longer being held back by a horrendous head coach.
2. Defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, who couldn't stop the spread option to save his life, is also gone.
3. Dayne Crist may not have looked like Joe Montana last week, but he hit open receivers.
4. Michael Floyd versus J.T. Floyd.
5. If Denard Robinson is going to have one bad game -- and which new quarterback doesn't? -- it's going to happen in his first road test at South Bend.
6. Michigan, historically, wins in South Bend exactly one time per decade: 1978, 1986, 1994, 2006. Even great Michigan teams lose there frequently, even against mediocre Irish squads.
Conclusion: Don't freak out if Michigan loses this weekend. They're not as good as they looked against Connecticut, but they're better than they'll look tomorrow.
Notre Dame 37, Michigan 24