#1 ND @ #3 Michigan coverage On Saturday Notre Dame will bring their #1 ranking into Ann Arbor to face #3 Michigan in a game that has huge national title implications. With the game happening so late in the season, it's likely that the loser will be out of title consideration. Notre Dame is 10-0 while Michigan is 9-0. Notre Dame has had Michigan's number thus far in this dynasty winning 31-18, 55-20, and 35-10. Can this be Michigan's year to turn it around? Let's look @ the tale of the tape. Both Michigan and Notre Dame are stacked and rated A+ OVR, on offense, and defense (with Notre Dame having a slight edge on offense). Notre Dame is the highest scoring team in the country while Michigan is the #2 scoring team (although ND is averaging 9 points per game more than Michigan). Notre Dame is the #1 offense in the country while Michigan is 38th. Michigan's ground game is more dominant as they are #3 compared to #5 for ND. ND also has the #1 passing game in the country while Michigan is way back @ 74th. Essentially, both ND and Michigan are very good @ what they do. Michigan can churn out the yards on the ground while ND is extremely prolific through the air while still being extremely strong on the ground. Defensively, things look brighter for Michigan. Michigan is giving up the 4th fewest points per game with 12 PPG while ND is giving up 21.5. Michigan's defense is rated #3 against the run, #40 against the pass and #14 overall while ND is #14, #103, and #77. This will be a tale of 2 games. ND's very good defense trying to stop Michigan's very good offense and Michigan's phenomenal defense trying to stop ND's phenomenal offense. Comparisons: Quarterbacks ND: Dayne Crist - Crist is rated a 96 OVR and has a cannon for an arm. He's putting up Heisman type numbers this year. Mich: Tate Forcier - Forcier, who is rated lower than Crist has struggled this year, throwing only 13 TDs compared to 10 INTs. Advantage: Notre Dame Running Backs ND: Gray and Wood have split carries and thusly, neither of them have put up huge numbers. Gray is a load to bring down while Wood is faster than any of Michigan's backs. They make a great Thunder and Lightening attack and have combined for 1000+ yards and 17 TDs. Mich: Like ND, Michigan spreads the carries around. Michigan can easily go 4 deep @ HB and their QB is always a threat to run. Michigan's top 2 backs are just as good as ND's. Advantage: Michigan (Based on HBs alone, this would be a push, but I'm giving Michigan the edge because of their QB) Wide Receivers ND: Their top 4 WRs are very good. Crist's favorite target is his #4 receiver, SO speedster Spence who has more catches than any 2 of the top 3 guys combined. His speed, especially lined up against dime backs and LBs as he always is, is a threat on every single play. Mich: Like ND, their top 4 receivers are very good. While they don't have anyone as fast as Spence, they have more speed than ND with 3 of their top 4 receivers having 95 speed compared to ND's 1. While Michigan doesn't throw as often as ND, this group of wide outs is every bit as dangerous as ND's. Advantage: Push Tight End ND: They have 3 guys that are all evenly rated. Crist loves to target his TEs so these guys put up some good numbers. Mich: Their #2 and 3 TEs can't compare to those of ND, but their #1 guy would be a shoe in for the top TE of the year award if he were utilized more. He is by far the best TE on any user team (and possibly in the country) and one can only imagine what kind of numbers he'd put up in ND's system. Advantage: Push (because ND's #2 and #3 are better and they're utilized more, but Michigan's #1 is a probable 1st round draft pick) Offensive Line ND: Their starters are solid as they're rated (from left to right) 90, 91, 99, 89, 90. Mich: With sliders that would allow pancakes, Michigan would have a couple of All Americans on their line. They're rated 99, 95, 97, 89, 92. Advantage: Michigan For defense I won't bother looking @ stats since Michigan's defense doesn't put up big numbers since they're so good they don't spend much time on the field. Defensive Line ND: They only play 3 D-linemen and they're very, very good. Rated 98, 99, 95 and the DEs are fast. It doesn't get much better than this. Mich: It didn't seem possible to get better than ND's D-line, but Michigan proves that it can. They're rated 99, 99, 94, 97 and they're just as fast as the ND linemen. They are capable of getting pressure on the QB by themselves which allows Michigan to drop 7 guys back in coverage most of the time. Advantage: Michigan Linebackers ND: This is one of the strongest parts of ND's team (as they are year after year). They are all strong. They're all fast. They're rated 94, 99, 94, 99 and they're all beasts. Mich: Their LBs are younger than ND's and not as talented. They're only rated 91, 86, 96 overall, and the SO MLB is also slow. They're a solid unit, but can't compare to those from South Bend. Advantage: Notre Dame Defensive Backs ND: Their top 2 corners are decent, but their #1 guy is slow with 88 speed. On top of this, their nickle and dime backs are low rated freshmen who might get rattled by playing in front of 110,000 people. McFarland is gone now so their 2 safeties are mediocre. Mich: Their top 2 corners are great shut down corners and despite not spending much time on the field, the #1 guy is leading the nation in interceptions. The nickle back is very good and the dime back is better than ND's. Michigan's safeties are both very good and combined with the corners, this is likely one of the very best secondaries in the country. Advantage: Michigan Special Teams ND: Their kicker/punter has average kicking power and below average accuracy (not that that'll matter with default sliders). He's managed to complete 80% of his kicks, but has had some trouble with XPs. His punting has been untested as he hasn't even punted once per game on the season. Riddick and Spence have combined for 4 kick/punt returns for TDs on the season making them both extremely scary. Mich: Their kicker and their punter both have stronger/more accurate legs than ND's combo guy. Gibbons hasn't kicked many FGs, but he's 10 for 10 on the season. Johnson is an accurate punter as he has pinned the ball inside the 20 on almost half of his punts. Banks and Toussaint are decent enough return guys, but they can't compare to Riddick and Spence. Advantage: Notre Dame (Michigan's kicker is better, but Riddick and Spence are a threat to score any time they return the ball. Totals: ND: 3 advantages Mich: 4 advantages On paper this looks like a close matchup. The question is "can Michigan overcome the ND Jinx and finally win one?"