Can we make too much of Notre Dame’s opening win vs. Michigan?
I don’t think so. As Game 1 wins go, its 24-17 win is about as good as it gets. The Irish led 14-0 midway through the first quarter. The Wolverines didn’t score an offensive touchdown until a mere 2:18 remained.
Quarterback Brandon Wimbush, in the spotlight to show improvement after a wobbly finish to the 2017 season, strutted his stuff. And the Irish defense, playing for new coordinator Clark Lea after Mike Elko took the money and ran to Texas A&M, delivered.
If those patterns continue, ND might be good enough to have the dream season Irish fans crave.
But I want to see more—and not just because Notre Dame is looking like a very watchable team.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
All credit to the Irish for a job well done vs. Michigan, right down to the crowd. After enduring that sea of red when Georgia invaded Notre Dame Stadium a year ago, ND staged a very successful Green-Out around its hallowed gridiron.
It did everything right from the get-go, opening a lightning-quick 14-0 lead on Wimbush’s arm and holding firm with solid defense.
Playing devil’s advocate, though, I still have many questions about Michigan.
The Wolverines have excuses: It was new QB Shea Patterson’s first game under Jim Harbaugh—and keep an eye on that relationship. Harbaugh may need to give Patterson more plays that emphasize the QB’s strengths. And with the offense struggling, the ballyhooed maize-and-blue defense was on the field too long.
Whether Michigan is going to have a rough ride under Harbaugh—who is an ugly 8-8 in his last 16 games, including an unthinkable four-game losing streak—or get its act together is a topic we’ll address soon.
Point is, we can attach a lot of weight to Notre Dame’s impressive opening win. How much weight? We don’t know yet.
One game does not a season make. Brian Kelly and his Irish would be the first to tell us that.
The schedule will provide answers soon enough. ND’s next three opponents—Ball State, Vanderbilt and (at) Wake Forest—look routine enough.
But Stanford comes to South Bend on Sept. 29. And the Irish travel on Oct. 6 to Virginia Tech, which looked very sharp in its dominant 24-3 win at Florida State.
The game against the Cardinal seems to set up well. It not only is at home. Stanford will be finishing a wicked September schedule that started with a good win over San Diego State and includes No. 17 USC plus a trip to No. 23 Oregon.
Irish fans already are looking to a possible matchup of 5-0 teams in Blacksburg.
That would be a very fun, very intense must-see game.
If the Irish get there, they’ll have a chance for a special moment.
But let’s enjoy the journey until then.[/membership]