Big Ten Football 2012
Big Ten Football Preview - Week 4
Big Ten Week 4Football Schedule
Louisiana Tech at Illinois
UAB at Ohio State
Idaho State at Nebraska
Temple at Penn State
Eastern Michigan at Michigan State
Michigan at Notre Dame
Central Michigan at Iowa
UTEP at Wisconsin
Syracuse at Minnesota
South Dakota at Northwestern
Week four of the Big Ten season will feature only one five-star matchup. It will be enough to command the attention of most of the nation.
There are lots of cupcake games on the docket in week four before the meat of the Big Ten season begins in earnest in week five. Northwestern plays a Football Championship Subdivision opponent. Minnesota hosts a mediocre Syracuse squad. Wisconsin plays host to an average side from UTEP. Iowa continues the Big Ten-Mid-American Conference tour by hosting Central Michigan. Michigan State welcomes MAC foe Eastern Michigan. Penn State hosts Temple, a Big East school that used to be part of the MAC. Nebraska goes the FCS route by hosting (and paying six figures to) Idaho State. Ohio State trots out Conference USA adversary Alabama-Birmingham. Illinois hosts Louisiana Tech of the Western Athletic Conference in what could be a very competitive contest. All these games will move to the side, though, so that the Michigan Wolverines can represent the Big Ten against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Here's the thing to realize about Notre Dame: It has beaten Big Ten teams in each of the past two weeks, fending off Purdue by three and then whacking Michigan State by 17 points. The Irish would have shut out the Spartans on Sept. 15 if Michigan State kicker Dan Conroy had not banged through a 50-yard bomb. Michigan clearly knows that it will face a challenge this week, primarily because its quarterback will have his hands full against Notre Dame's imposing defense.
Michigan signal caller Denard Robinson, in his senior season, has still not become a polished pocket passer. Robinson's inability to hit receivers on downfield routes prevented Michigan from doing any damage against Alabama in week one. Denard will get another chance to prove his worth on the big stage when he goes into Notre Dame Stadium for a nationally-televised night game against the Irish. Denard will need to make plays with his legs, it's true, but he will also have to hit a few passes in crunch time. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has been such a run-stuffing force that Michigan will encounter a number of third downs with at least five yards to go. Denard can use his legs to make plays here and there, but he can't expect to win without hitting a downfield pass. That's just not the way modern football works. Teams must be dominant in the trenches if they want to avoid passing, and that's certainly not the case in the matchup between Michigan's offensive line and Notre Dame's front seven.
It's true that Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson will have a lot to say about the outcome in South Bend, but Denard Robinson is the man in the center of the action, the prime mover in Wolverines-Irish.
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