It will be a long time before Notre Dame and Michigan play in the Big House, if they ever play there again.
Michigan’s 41-30 victory was a beat down in terms of the rivalry, which ends next year. No matter what Brian Kelly might want you to believe, Michigan’s manhandling Notre Dame is precisely why Notre Dame needed to cancel the rivalry. After 20 years, Notre Dame is barely relevant. Even last year, their overrating was exposed in a lopsided loss against Alabama in a title game that they clearly did not belong in.
The Fighting Irish are no longer an elite program and may never be again. So naturally they want to avoid continuous losses to Michigan, further exposing that truth. Kelly’s has had years to build his program, and last night they fielded a good football team that was spanked by an excellent Michigan football team comprised of mostly freshman and sophomores.
Also, with Brady Hoke recruiting like the U.S. Army during WWII, naturally, a team like Notre Dame is going to avoid Michigan if they can. Because as we witnessed Saturday, the only thing Notre Dame could do against the Wolverines was put up enough of a struggle to keep it from being a rout. Not one time did Notre Dame’s stud defensive lineman get to Gardner in the beginning of the game.
Adding insult to injury, ND’s highly touted linebacker was opposing three interior Michigan offensive linemen who all saw their first starts a week ago. Michigan reiterated it again: If you will bite as dog, you will bite as a puppy.
Devin Gardner threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score. Gardner ensured a victory with a 4-yard TD pass to Drew Dileo with 4:18 remaining. Then he ran for 14 yards to convert a third down putting the final nail in Notre Dame’s coffin.
Gardner was 21 of 33 for 294 yards. However, his one interception was truly ugly. Trying to avoid a sack in the end zone, he flipped a pass to seemingly no one. Notre Dame intercepted it in the end zone for a touchdown. Notre Dame missed the extra point, but got a reprieve when Brady Hoke challenged the play. The ruling on the field was upheld and Notre Dame made the second PAT attempt. “I made a horrible decision,” Gardner said. “But the defense gave me a place to stand. They told me they believed in me and I finished it.”
That is what Michigan fans need to be jumping for joy about. The QB makes a possible game changer mistake, but the defense steps up, and Gardner shakes it off. That is the elite vs. good difference: Michigan’s defensive stand after the turnover versus ND’s allowing Michigan to score a touchdown on Tommy’s Reese’s interception just before halftime.
Jeremy Gallon had a career high 184 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns. “I can’t even imagine having a game like this. My teammates made this happen, not me,” Jeremy said modestly. Fitz Toussaint chalked up 71 yards on 22 carries. More importantly he converted a short pass into a 31-yard gain that kept the final scoring drive alive.
There were two back-to-back costly holding penalties on Michigan reminding us that the Wolverines are young. However, the amount of growth they have displayed since the opening quarter of the season and the fourth quarter with Notre Dame on Saturday is impressive.
Still, in terms of the Notre Dame Michigan rivalry, which has seen three centuries, Saturday’s resounding victory is bittersweet as The Maize and Blue says, “turn off the lights, we’re done here.”
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