It was there for the taking.
It was there when Michigan had a first-and-goal on their third possession, when Vincent Smith—yes, Vincent Smith—threw an interception in the end zone.
It was there on each of the next four drives, each ending with a Denard Robinson interception.
It was there when—despite the above—Michigan faced just a ten-point deficit on their first possession of the second half, when they drove to the Notre Dame 16, only to lose a Robinson fumble.
It was there when the defense forced a do-or-die third-and-four with 2:35 on the clock, only to see Tyler Eifert beat J.T. Floyd down the sideline for a 38-yard completion.
In a game that felt like karmic retribution for the last three years, however, Michigan never seized control, instead making error after crippling error until there were no more errors to make. The defense did everything in their power to overcome the offense, holding Notre Dame to just 239 yards on 4.8 yards per play and forcing two interceptions of their own. They could not stop Robinson from turning the ball over, though, and in the end it was a triumphant Tommy Rees kneeling the clock out.
The turnovers overshadowed a stellar defensive effort, one that will sadly be forgotten in the aftermath. Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson was completely ineffective, completing just one fewer pass to Michigan (two) than he did to his own team. The Irish rushing attack never got going, gaining 94 yards on 31 carries. Jordan Kovacs (7 tackles, 1 TFL) and Jake Ryan (5 tackles, all solo) both turned in outstanding games. With no margin for error, however, all it took was two poor plays on third downs—a pass interference by freshman Jarrod Wilson on the goal line and the final pass to Eifert—to foil an otherwise textbook Mattison game.
On offense, the bright spots are fewer and farther between. Fitz Toussaint finally got some holes to run though and looked like his nimble 2011 self when he found them. Roy Roundtree make a few crucial catches after largely disappearing from the offense this year. Al Borges added a promising wrinkle when Devin Gardner took an end-around only to throw downfield to fullback Joe Kerridge, drawing a pass interference on the opening drive. That's about it.
As I'm sure will be said ad nauseam in the coming bye week, all of Michigan's goals are still within reach. The Big Ten is awful and still very much there for the taking. If the Wolverines are to seize that chance, however, they'll have to be far more opportunistic than they were tonight, when a fourth straight victory over the Irish slipped through their fingers and into the hands of a team more willing to take advantage.
Better late than never, here's the liveblog. Please familiarize yourself with the Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post before posting.
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one. Something like… Punt-Counterpunt.
By Ken “Sky” Walker
Last week, one of the comments asked the question “Am I the only one that doesn’t really understand what this is supposed to be?” in reference to the columns appearing here on game day. Lest any of our readers wallow in ignorance, here’s the genesis of (at least what I believe it to be) Punt/CounterPunt.
Search for Point/Counterpoint and you’ll find that this was the name of a segment aired on the CBS show 60 Minutes. The idea was to feature opposing political viewpoints on the issues of the day. You should also come across a YouTube video of a Saturday Night Live take on this segment [ed: embedding disabled, sorry kids]. Watch and you’ll understand why Counterpunt’s columns take the tone they do. Guess he’s just never evolved beyond that old comedy bit (though I admit it’s a classic). There—consider yourself learned.
That was the history geek coming out of me. Let's continue: the recent history of the Michigan/Notre Dame rivalry in football has greatly favored our Wolverines. The last three games each had their season’s best finishes. The Denard Robinson Experience has been at its most spectacular vs. the Irish. Golden Dome worshipers have to wonder when divine intervention going to kick in on their behalf. Denard’s performances in these games have been truly a wonder to behold. He’s left his mark on one of the sport’s best rivalries, one that won’t be equaled for a long time to come.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn’t seem to be much concerned with historical trends. I think he sees his lack of success vs. Michigan as merely a matter of unlucky breaks. (Bad luck and the crap load of yardage his defense gives up to Denard every game!) That would jibe with his persona, which is kind of smarmy. He’s like a cocky, fast talking Wall Street con artist who just lost (or stole) your life savings. So sorry, how did that happen?
As much as I’d love to see Denard put on another show, I think Coach Kelly has got the goods this time. The Irish defense looks strong—the Wolverine defense looks kind of squishy. Michigan’s receivers sho
uld give them an advantage in the passing game, but can the offensive line give Denard time to make comfortable throws? I fear the third time’s a charm for Kelly – Irish eyes will be smiling after this one.
Michigan 24 Notre Dame 35
By Nick RouMel
I am not too keen on pop culture. For example, I am vaguely aware that there is someone named “Snooki” who is wildly popular, despite having no discernible talent.
Similarly, someone who was not steeped in football history might wonder why there is all the fuss about Notre Dame football. Since Lou Holtz left in 1996, they are on their sixth coach (yes, I’m counting an 0-1 interim coach, plus non-coach resume-padder George O’Leary). On the field during that span, they have averaged 7-5 seasons, putting them on a par with fellow ACC football powerhouses such as Wake Forest.
Yet, like Snooki, the Irish still get media love. Why? Have we plummeted to such depths, that mediocrity plus media coverage somehow equals greatness?
You may discern that I don’t like Notre Dame. That is not entirely accurate. I despise Notre Dame with every fibre of my being. I hate them so much that I actually root for Michigan State to beat them every year, and the Spartans are well down my rooting hierarchy, perhaps a notch above Ohio State for third to last place. And what does Sparty do? Lose! Not that it broke my heart, but it gave Notre Dame this feeling that they’re back! That this year, they really mean it! Like Snooki having her baby, they now have a legitimate reason to be media darlings! [ed: "Vaguely aware" indeed.]
Why, just look at the Irish, sitting pretty at 3-0. Like they’re not supposed to start 3-0, year in and year out. (Remember they criticized Ty Willingham for only starting his first three games at 3-0.) So now the Irish are ranked, #11, and they host Michigan in their storied stadium tonight, with Touchdown Jesus, First Down Moses, and Illegal Procedure Paterno (whoops, wrong school) smiling benevolently at the beat-down. Their fans will be out for blood, looking to defeat Michigan for the first time in four years.
But they also fear the Wolverines, perhaps like no other team in recent history. The Irish have lost the last three contests in the last 40 seconds combined. Tate Forcier beat them in ’09 with 11 seconds on the clock, and Denard torched them twice - with 27 seconds left in ’10, and just 2 seconds from the final gun last year - when we rallied from a 24-7 deficit at home.
Yes, we have their number. Michigan’s recent football fortunes may still have us shackled in football prison, but if so, Notre Dame is in solitary confinement. And we are the envy of all the other inmates, because with those golden helmets and all, the Irish are even prettier than Snooki.
Denard does it again, with a second left:
MICHIGAN 24, NOTRE DAME 23
Brief position paper on hanging a banner on the other team's stadium. It's better than not doing it. It involves scaling a locked fence and risking a night in not just any jail, but a Northern Indiana jail. Judging from the billboards you pass to and from Chicago, the very bars of said jails are made from child molesters righteously imprisoned by the local sheriff.
So, like, what's up, SI? Not one but two of their CFB folks have dumped on the above. Aunt Stabby:
Son, I am disappoint. So here’s the thing: You travel from Ann Arbor to South Bend. You get close to the stadium, circumventing students guarding its iron and concrete honor or whatever. You hang what looks, from a distance at least, like a very well-made banner on a stadium gate. And that banner says … “BEAT THE IRISH”??
We'll discuss the changing fan culture at Notre Dame in more depth later, but Michigan may also want to embrace a new, snarkier age. How could the same fan base that gave us MGoBlog -- one of the best, most irreverent college football sites on the web -- embark on anOcean's Eleven-style caper to infiltrate Notre Dame Stadium only to hang a banner that says "Beat The Irish?" You're traditionalists? Fine. I get that. But in bygone days, college football fan bases also committed better pranks.
Flattery gets you nowhere, Staples. Yeah, okay, it would be a lot better if the sign said simply "RETURNING TO GLORY SINCE 1993" right under "University of Notre Dame. But did Clemson students scale something or other at Doak? Did Notre Dame students set Sparty's head aflame? Bah, bah on you and your bahing. Bah. I bah at you.
ATTENTION STUDENTS THINKING ABOUT DOING SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN THE FUTURE: I am now available for snarky consultations on these matters.
I can post this again, I think. If Special K hauls you-know-what out again this will be in error, but since I believe we have dumped you-know-what for good, it's Freekbass time on mgoblog again:
That feels amazing.
BONUS GRATIUTIOUS YOUTUBIN':
2010 from the field from Ryan Terpstra:
Unfortunately the original Yakety Sax went up in flames thanks to Thought Equity Motion.
Holy crap! Mike Rothstein profiles Roy Roundtree and drops a fact that I can't believe no one knew already:
The first major change in Roundtree's life might have set everything else in motion. When he was starting school, his maternal grandmother died and his mom, Sheila, took the Roundtrees from Pahokee, Fla., to her hometown of Dayton, Ohio.
Roundtree is originally from the Muck. Small world. Also read that, it's good and not paywalled.
Previewland! Hey, guess who forgot to link to everyone's previews in the preview post? This guy. Here you go:
- BWS: "Arbitrary percentage that Michigan wins: 43.79%"
- MNBN: "I have no earthly idea who is going to win this game. I don't even have any criteria in which to make an educated guess. I got nothing."
- M&GB: has an average score of 30-28 M. Also preview.
- TTB: not exactly out on a limb with "Denard Robinson has his worst career performance of the Notre Dame series," predicts 24-20 ND.
- HTR: "This is essentially a greatly scaled down version of the Alabama game," predicts 27-17 ND. Also Who Are You, Why Do We Care.
- Tremendous breaks down the ND defense.
- Know Your Foe from the MZone.
- Meinke predicts the spread, the crafty dog, with ND 31-27.
Auerbach on Mealers. Go:
"After all the bad things, it's been hard to push through that and continue to believe that good things are going to come our way," Brock said. "I just love being able to see him succeed in something he's worked so hard for. He's put in that time and effort for the last four years, and he inspires me the same way so many people tell me I inspire them."
I don't even want to know you. Bacon hears these people on the radio and has written about it in the News:
So, the day after Michigan slaughtered UMass, I was not surprised to hear fans complain about quarterback Denard Robinson's performance. Mind you, Denard ran for 106 yards and a touchdown, and passed for almost 300 yards and three touchdowns.
And that, to one caller, was the problem: "I'm tired of living and dying with Denard." In other words, Robinson was too good for that fan's taste.
hate you hate you hate
Etc.: Ugh, enforced know-nothing user content highlights plague Baumgardner's life. Let's all keep him in our hearts. Also from him are Michigan coaches' first trips to South Bend. Infante on the O'Bannon case documents.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Notre Dame|
Notre Dame Stadium,
South Bend, IN
|WHEN||7:30 pm Eastern, September 22nd 2012|
|THE LINE||ND -5|
|WEATHER||rainy and mid-50s most of the day, but clear by gametime, minimal wind|
Run Offense vs Notre Dame
the thing no one remembers about this is Te'o made this tackle about two yards downfield
This was a slog for Purdue and not particularly effective for Michigan State, though the Spartans may have been better off imitating their Boise State gameplan: LeVeon Bell averaged 4.1 yards on just 19 carries.
You're probably all like "none of those teams have Denard Robinson," and that's true. But Michigan only got 114 yards last year, almost literally all of them from Denard. Vincent Smith, Michael Shaw, and Stephen Hopkins combined on eight carries that gained ten yards with a long of three. Denard managed 113 on 15 carries. This was very early in Borges's wild ride with the spread, though, and his first against a real opponent. The next week Robinson would carry 26 times against EMU, which is either inexplicable or Borges trying to get a handle on something he hadn't been able to against the Irish. Much rests on that handle being acquired by now.
Notre Dame's star is of course Manti Te'o, the inside linebacker from Hawaii who etc etc etc you've watched him meet Denard probably thirty times, you know all about Te'o. He's kind of good, you guys. This year I'm not even sure the ND LBs are freaking out enough to burn them on misdirection—whatever reads they're making have been accurate. The other guys aren't quite to that standard. Chris Fox is pretty vulnerable in space, whether it's tackling a guy or covering one; Carlo Calabrese is good, but not great.
The line is getting nasty. Nose tackle Louis Nix was a stumbling battleship last year; he's slimmed down and is two-gapping opponents effectively. Stephon Tuitt is a 3-4 DE at 300 pounds who has five sacks on the year, about which more later. They'll put LB Prince Shembo down at DE on passing downs and use Kapron Lewis-Moore (a strong candidate for Brooks Bollinger eighth year memorial senior) as a stouter run defender. These guys are all playing effectively, albeit against questionable offensive lines.
ND's 3-4 is predicated on two things: making you double those linemen to move them and getting both inside linebackers to the gap clean. This is happening a lot. The results are above.
Michigan has Denard!
Right, so that. Denard is a problem for anyone on the ground because he gives the offense an extra blocker. Opponents generally combat this by bringing down a safety, which ND will likely do by splitting him over the slot when there's a slot. There is a not-insignificant danger ND will not have to do this. Michigan's interior line has been worrying, and it's hard to see any of Michigan's OL in there being able to prevent Nix from bulling his way into the backfield without help. If Schofield can't hold up against Lewis-Moore or Tuitt, two linebackers will be enough when one of them is Te'o quality.
Misdirection is called for. Neither of ND's first two Big Ten opponents could use much of that for whatever reason, but Michigan has a big threat wearing 16 and a mad scientist OC who had better damn well have something up his sleeve after two weeks in which the offense was "whatever because it works" and a third in which the offense was "don't get Denard hurt."
Key Matchup: ND ILB versus second level blocks. Must get hat on opponent or Denard goes no places.
[Hit THE JUMP for Hannibal Lecter DE, Brian Kelly cat, and oh God I have to predict something don't I.]
It's strange that Notre Dame is considering giving this up for more Syracuse and stuff. In the relatively short time since bringing this thing back, it accounts for some of the greatest moments of the season's first quarter. It's Remy Hamilton, and Desmond laying out for a 4th down dagger, and time running out at the 11, and Denard going DENNIS BERGKAMP! (compare to Wheatley with a crease), and several more increasingly preposterous ways to beat them by 4. Even when it's terrible, it's crazy-ass yakety-sax in a freshman quarterback terrible. And oh, TD Jesus knows this rivalry has seen its freshman quarterbacks, from Henne, to the stork-off of 2007, to The Jedi of Moxie, and now the Golson Show. So whether you're making the drive to South Bend or the walk to your living room, start off with a stroll through inthebluelot et al.'s special gallery of Great Images from the Battle of the Winningests. Bonus 2012 exhibit: first blood Michigan.
Since we're leading with Best of the Board, here's the rest of that:
WORST QB PERFORMANCE OF ALL TIME?
The first two episodes of that famous M-ND saxophonic trilogy were submitted along with Bauserman, Buffalo's Alex Zordich last week (4-22 with 2 INTs), and "any game where Lovie Smith said 'Rex is our quarterback.'" #loldabears. Then came the Mathlete:
Pulled the old database up and Brian Luke from Kansas gets the worst showing at -28 in a 2005 game against Oklahoma. 11/30 86 yards, 3 INT and -40 yards rushing
Juice Williams narrowly edges out Henne for worst B1G game, with a -20 in 2008 against Penn St
If my fist had ever stopped shaking at 2007 it would start shaking again. The opposite side of this coin is the Charles Woodson vs. All Time Best NFL DBs thread.
ETC. Mgrowold (who's spending time in the pony box for illegal use of avatar), apparently has the right tailgate spot, since both Hoke and now Mattison have stopped by it. Adidas, which is supposed to be a friggin' soccer company, manages to totally biff the soccer uniforms. Ultimate UFR experience: offense, defense.
The diaries, after THE JUMP