The Shea Patterson experience is officially upon us. The once 5-star recruit is now an established college quarterback with the flair for the dramatic and a talent for extending plays. He is easily the best all-around prospect that head coach, Jim Harbaugh has seen while at the captain’s chair in Ann Arbor. The Michigan Wolverines are -1 over Notre Dame on Saturday.
It is a prove it year for Harbaugh after struggling to defeat rivals Ohio State and Michigan State so look for him to try to make a statement against another hated rival, Notre Dame. The opposing coach, Brian Kelly hushed his critics last season as he went 10-3 after some were calling for his job.
The Wolverines send out a squad that will look quite different, as they sent 11 players to the NFL draft. Many of their impact players remain however as their defense will be as strong as ever, returning both Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary, both are ranked in the top 10 as edge rushers.
They also return Devin Bush, Jr. and Kheleke Hudson, leading tacklers from a year ago. Lavert Hill and Josh Mettelus return as well from the secondary so this is much more of a reload than a rebuild on that side of the ball. I fully expect Don Brown’s defense to lead the nation with this consistent talent and another year in his system from these superstars.
On offense, the Wolverines return their leading rushers in Karan Higdon and Chris Evans, along with their top three receivers from a year ago in Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Eddie McDoom. Adding Shea Patterson to this mix should yield more points scored for the maize and blue.
Notre Dame lost several key contributors on their offensive unit. Josh Adams’ consistency from the running back position will be greatly missed as it was Adams that kept the Fighting Irish in control of most games last season. Losing linemen like Mike McGlinchey and Quentin Nelson, both first-round talents, will not be easily done either.
The Fighting Irish have replaced Adams with talented back, Dexter Williams, but there have been rumblings that have pegged Williams as suspended for this game. If that is the case, the Irish will have just two running backs with a combined 235 rushing yards under their belts. Their quarterback, Brandon Winbush is an outstanding rusher, but he cannot expect to do all the damage alone, not against this talented defensive unit.
Michigan’s Tarik Black will be out for this game with injury, but I still expect the Wolverines to get the job done. Jim Harbaugh with an elite quarterback and a very tough defense is not something to take lightly. The Michigan Wolverines are the team to pick here. Take Michigan -1 over Notre Dame.