Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 59 of 83

60 PRESEASON 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI THE 'BIG ONE' For several decades, Michigan and Notre Dame ranked Nos. 1-2 on col- lege football's all-time winning per- centage list. Michigan enters 2018 still No. 1 at .72914. At the turn of the new year, Notre Dame was so close that a vic- tory over the Wolverines this Sept. 1 would have put the Fighting Irish at the top. Alas, on Feb. 13 the NCAA denied Notre Dame's appeal and required it to vacate all 21 victories in 2012 (12) and 2013 (nine) because of the use of self-reported ineligible players, and that dropped the all-time winning percentage to No. 4 on the chart at .72422. However, the reality is that since 2007, both of the venerated names in college football have been mediocre overall. From 2007-17, Notre Dame is 85-55 (.607), while Michigan is two games behind at 83-57 (.593). Both have had their moments dur- ing that 11-year stretch. Notre Dame finished No. 4 in 2012 after getting pounded in the BCS Na- tional Championship Game by Ala- bama, while Michigan finished 11-2 in 2011 after a Sugar Bowl victory. In 2015, 10-1 Notre Dame was oh so close to College Football Playoff (CFP) contention before losing on the final play to Stanford 38-36. In 2016, 10-1 Michigan was oh so close to making the CFP before fall- ing 30-27 in double overtime at Ohio State. Ninth-year Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly has been a two- time National Coach of the Year after 12-0 regular seasons at Cincinnati (2009) and Notre Dame (2012) — but critics note that during his Irish ten- ure he is merely 14-17 against Associ- ated Press top 25 teams at the time of the game and 13-22 versus teams that finish in the final poll of the season. Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh's 28-11 record his first three seasons at Mich- igan is identical to the 28-11 mark registered by Kelly his first three at Notre Dame from 2010-12. What has the natives restless is Harbaugh is 0-3 versus Ohio State, 1-2 against "little brother" Michi- gan State, has lost two straight bowl games when the contests appeared in hand … and a defeat at Notre Dame would put him on a four-game losing streak. For both coaches and teams, vic- tory is badly needed to defuse early negative energy. QUARTERBACK QUESTIONS The "P word" — potential — is used quite often when describing Notre Dame senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush and his counter- part at Michigan, Shea Patterson. Nevertheless, neither quite fulfilled that potential as a passer in 2017. In his debut season as a starter, Wimbush finished 86th nationally in pass efficiency (121.4 rating) among 110 Football Bowl Subdivision quar- terbacks who attempted enough tosses to qualify. Meanwhile, Patterson played only seven games at Ole Miss in 2017 be- fore an injury ended his campaign when the Rebels were 3-4 (Ole Miss finished 4-2 without him). Patterson's passing numbers looked better, but they were also highly skewed. In the opening two games against vastly inferior competition in South Alabama and UT Martin — Patterson was a sizzling 60 of 78 (76.9 percent) for 918 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception. That was an astronomical 211.4 pass efficiency rating, which was higher than what Heisman Trophy winner Blake May- field (198.9) produced during the en- tire season at Oklahoma. However, in the other five contests in which Ole Miss was 1-4, Patter- son's passer rating was merely 126.1 (near Wimbush's 121.4). He tossed three interceptions in a 27-16 loss to Cal and was 10-of-23 passing with three more interceptions in a defeat to LSU, before getting injured. GAME PREVIEW: MICHIGAN Top STorylineS The Fighting Irish and Wolverines have long battled for the top spot on college football's all-time win- ning percentage list, but over the past 11 years the two football teams have a combined winning per- centage of just .600. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Preseason 2018