SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -The best thing Notre Dame might have going for it following a humbling victory over San Diego State is that its next opponent is Michigan.
The upcoming game against the Wolverines (1-1) will help the Fighting Irish (1-0) put Saturday's effort behind them faster, Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said Sunday.
``Because you have a fierce opponent you have a lot of respect for that you know is going through a little transition themselves,'' he said.
After Notre Dame's 21-13 victory over the Aztecs on Saturday, Weis gave the cliche answer about being ``happy with an ugly win because it's better than an ugly loss.''
It sounded remarkably similar to Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez's comment following his team's 16-6 win over Miami of Ohio: ``I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty.''
The game Saturday will mark the second straight not-ready-for-prime-time meeting between the two storied schools. Last year both teams were 0-2, the first time they've met when neither was ranked, when they played, and the Wolverines won 38-0. Although they both have wins this season, both remain unranked and look nothing like the two winningest college football programs.
Weis was a little more upbeat Sunday about his team's performance than after the game on Saturday, when he balked when asked whether he had seen the improvement he wanted in his team's opening game.
``The jury's still out because, obviously Utopia would be you come in here, go up and down the field, you win 100 to nothing,'' he said. ``Guess what, it didn't play out that way.''
It sure didn't. The Irish averted a humiliating loss with two fourth-quarter touchdowns after San Diego State tailback Brandon Sullivan fumbled inches from the end zone when it appeared the Aztecs were about to take a 13-point lead.
But Weis said Sunday that after watching the tape of the game he found more positives than negatives to talk about with the team when he meets with them on Monday.
With the exception of the field goal unit, which had a missed 47-yard attempt and a muffed snap, and an offsides call against the punt return team that gave the Aztecs a first down that led to a touchdown, Weis was pleased with special teams play.
Weis was disappointed the Irish had four turnovers, went three-and-out on their opening possession of both halves and were just 3-of-12 in converting on third downs. But he was pleased the offensive line, after giving up a school-record 58 sacks last season, didn't allow a sack for the first time since beating Navy in 2005, a span of 30 games.
He also was pleased with the play of Golden Tate, who had six catches for 93 yards, and Jimmy Clausen, who was 8-of-9 passing for 98 yards and two touchdowns in the decisive fourth quarter when the Irish switched to their no-huddle offense.
But he added: ``You can't count on a two-minute operation in the fourth quarter to bail you out on a weekly basis.''
With the exception of four big plays it gave up, Weis was more pleased with the play of the defense. He was especially happy about the fumble that turned the game around.
``I'd like to think later on this year we're going to reflect back on that play and say that was the play that set Notre Dame up for success, because that play was the game-changing play,'' Weis said.
The question now is whether it was season changing, or just allowed the Irish to avoid another embarrassing loss.

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