Saturday, September 22, 2012

September 22, 2012: Notre Dame 13, Michigan 6

The Notre Dame vs. Michigan game just ended.  Notre Dame won 13 – 6.  This was the lowest scoring game between these storied football programs since the 1908 game that Michigan won 12 – 0.  I have written about the nail biting victories by Michigan the last two years;  it only seems appropriate that I comment on this year’s game.  This does confirm that I am a wannabe sports writer. 
  Michigan’s streak of three last minute victories against Notre Dame ended tonight.  Notre Dame took their record to 4-0.  Michigan’s record is at 2-2. 
I have not had the frustrating pleasure of saying this about Michigan for a long time but it makes sense again.  Michigan is the best 2 – 2 team in the country.  In the first game, Michigan was crushed by Alabama.  It wasn’t pretty and it was not remotely close.  Michigan then had two wins against Air Force and Massachusetts.  They struggled against Air Force whose disciplined option attack was effective against Michigan’s young defensive line.  There was a glimmer of hope in the last two series against Air Force.  The defense stopped Air Force twice and showed what they were capable of.  Massachusetts is not a strong team, therefore it was impossible to see if they were improving or if they just beat up a team that was struggling themselves.
What makes them the best 2 – 2 team in the nation?  Simply, it was beating Notre Dame in total yardage 299 – 239.  This is a testimony to Michigan’s emerging defense.  It was also a testimony to the Michigan offense that did move the ball against Notre Dame.  They simply shot themselves in the foot with turnovers.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame had beat Navy, Purdue, and Michigan State.  They took care of Navy handily.  They needed an end of game drive to beat Purdue.  Most thought that their first real test was to come against Michigan State in a game that was played in East Lansing.  They crushed Michigan State 20-3.  In two games against the best the state of Michigan has to offer, Notre Dame’s defense gave up three field goals.  This is impressive especially against Michigan which had scored 38, 28, and 35 points in the past three years. In this win against Michigan, as in the win against Purdue, Brian Kelly went to the back-up veteran QB Tommy Rees in pulling freshman phenom Everett Golson.
Certainly Notre Dame’s defense deserves kudos.  They registered five interceptions and a lost fumble.  All the Michigan turnovers were in Notre Dame territory!  Notre Dame was plus four in turnovers.  Their defense was stingy in the red zone and did not allow Michigan in the end zone.   I have to put part of the blame on Denard Robinson.  He made some hurried and bad throws.  Michigan could have had at least one touchdown, maybe two.  One of the turnovers turned in the Notre Dame touchdown.  Denard was magical the past two years with long runs and last minute heroics.  While he had chances this evening, it was not to be this year. 
Kudos to Notre Dame. 

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