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Bob Birge's Irish Eyes Are Smiling


September 12, 2009 9:15 AM

Trip to Michigan a big test for maturing Clausen

Much has been made about how Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen seems to have a different demeanor, about how he is having more fun on the field and playing with more confidence.

Those things will come with winning and experience. Clausen, of course, is now a junior, having put together back-to-back spectacular efforts against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl and last week against Nevada in this year's season opener.

With talented receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd in his arsenal, Clausen could threaten Notre Dame's single-season passing record of 3,919 yards set by Brady Quinn in 2005.

Now, however, we want to see how Clausen handles a hostile environment (a.k.a, the Big House), to see how much he really has matured and grown.

You know Michigan will be out to make amends for last season's 35-17 loss at Notre Dame that was worse than the final score indicated.

Clausen's first visit to Michigan two years ago was not pretty. He was replaced by Evan Sharpley after passing for just 74 yards, as Notre Dame slipped to 0-3 for only the second time in school history.

As a side note, we have to comment again on the allegations made by anonymous - and former - Michigan players that Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez exceeded the 20-hour practice week mandated by the NCAA.

That could never happen at Notre Dame because it would mean Charlie Weis would have to delay his dinner reservations.

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