Talk to me about it. That's senior leadership and grit from Fitz. So so clutch. His run on 2nd down at 34-30 was POTG for me.
Michigan 41, Notre Dame 30, Sanity 0
After Beyonce appeared on the Big House scoreboard, Eminem gave an astoundingly bizarre halftime interview, Devin Gardner threw the most inexplicable interception in the history of interceptions, the game-sealing interception went through James Ross's fingertips, and a couple of questionable pass interference calls set up Michigan's final score, this was the only way it could end—with a Tommy Rees pass ricocheting off Raymon Taylor's foot and into the stratosphere, landing safely in the arms of Blake Countess, who kneeled in the end zone and effectively ended a game full of lunacy even by Michigan-Notre Dame standards.
The Wolverines held a 34-20 lead to begin the fourth quarter and looked to have the game in hand after the defense forced a quick three-and-out; with the way Michigan had been able to move the ball, victory seemed assured. After a Devin Gardner keeper lost four yards on second down, however, Michigan's newly-christened #98 took a snap from his own 16-yard line, scrambled back into his own end zone to avoid a hellacious Notre Dame rush, then desperately chucked the ball ... directly into the arms of Irish DE Stephon Tuitt. The play stood on review, beginning a snakebit sequence for Michigan that hushed the record-setting crowd of 115,109 into a nerve-wracked silence.
Michigan's next drive started with a seven-yard pass to Jeremy Gallon, in the midst of a record-setting night of his own; then Gallon didn't get up, and the fans watched in horror as he limped off, favoring his hamstring. A false start by Devin Funchess on the next play negated most of the original gain. On second-and-eight, Gardner rushed for four yards—and both Funchess and Taylor Lewan came up hurt, though Funchess's boo-boo actually gave Lewan time to recover from what appeared to be a poke in the eye. After Gardner shorted a third-down pass to a gimpy Gallon, the Wolverines had to punt—which Matt Wile shanked 21 yards into the Notre Dame sideline, setting up the Irish at their own 48. Five plays later, Notre Dame's Kyle Brindza connected on a 40-yard field goal, and in less than three minutes the Michigan lead had been cut to just four.
A lesser quarterback may have wilted after committing such an egregious error; Devin Gardner (right, Upchurch), however, is no such quarterback. Gardner found a wide-open Fitz Toussaint in the flat for a 31-yard gain two plays after Toussaint broke left for a 22-yard rush, his best on an otherwise tough night. A very questionable pass interference penalty gave Michigan a first down at the Notre Dame 14-yard line. Three plays later, another pass interference flag on a goal line pass to Funchess (less questionable this time, though still not the most obvious of calls) gave the Wolverines first down and goal to go. On second down, Gardner stared down an unblocked Tuitt and threw a dart to Drew Dileo, who ducked into the end zone; the 41-30 score would hold up as the final margin after Rees's second pick, coming on first-and-goal from the Michigan six, took a most unusual path into the arms of Countess.
Until all hell broke loose, the story of the game was Gallon, who finished with career highs of eight receptions, 184 yards, and three touchdowns. His first touchdown came when he utilized his cloaking device, as Gardner found him uncovered in the middle of the field; 61 yards, one great Jehu Chesson block, and a few missed tackles later, Michigan led 10-0 with 5:35 left in the first quarter.
The Irish responded quickly, albeit fortuitously, as Rees's third-and-goal pass bounced off his intended receiver, George Atkinson, and directly into the hands of T.J. Jones on the very next drive. After a Michigan three-and-out, Notre Dame opened the second quarter with a 44-yard field goal from Brindza, knotting the game at ten.
From there, Michigan took control of the game. Gardner capped off the ensuing drive by audibling to an option play at the last possible moment, scoring on a two-yard keeper as Brady Hoke tried—and, fortunately, failed—to call a timeout as the play clock ticked down to one. After the teams traded field goals, Countess undercut a Rees pass for his first career interception, weaving through the Irish offense to give Michigan great field position at the Notre Dame 23. It took four plays for Gardner and Gallon to connect for another touchdown, this one a perfectly-thrown ball low and outside which Gallon scooped up for a 12-yard touchdown. At the half, Michigan led 27-13, held a 268-199 advantage in total yardage, and appeared to be in total command of the game.
After a halftime show featuring Beyonce—yes, that Beyonce—doing the intro honors via scoreboard video and the band playing a few of her greatest hits as the stadium lights dimmed to reveal a Maize and Blue laser show, Michigan received to open the second half. A promising drive stalled when Ishaq Williams sacked Gardner at the Notre Dame 41, forcing the Wolverines to settle for a Matt Wile punt. Rees engineered a 12-play, 90-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard pass to tight end Troy Niklas, who bulled over Jarrod Wilson and into the end zone to once again cut the deficit to seven.
Once again, Gardner and Gallon stretched the lead out to 14, this time on a bootleg pass to Gallon on a crossing route; this year's new #21 dove over a defender and reached the ball over the pylon for a 13-yard score. The game looked well in hand when Notre Dame's next possession ended when Rees, facing a heavy blitz, overthrew a corner route on fourth down, setting up Michigan at their own 17.
Three plays later, Gardner lost his mind, as many in the stands surely did when he tried his patented weaving escape, only to find himself dead to rights in the end zone. It wouldn't be a Michigan-Notre Dame game without a ridiculous finish, and only the 2009-2011 games compare to tonight's in my (admittedly recency-biased) memory.
In the end, one good tipped pass deserved another, and the PA guy not-so-fondly known around here as Special K delivered a trolling worthy of the heated rivalry with a triumphant playing of "The Chicken Dance", a fittingly absurd end to a fittingly absurd game.
- Gorgeous Borges called a masterpiece.
- The O-Line played very well against an incredible defensive front.
- Gardner -> Gallon is going to be incredibly fun to watch this season.
- The Big House was rockin' last night... Halftime show was EPIC!
- Tommy Rees is a helluva quarterback.
- Fitz's 22-yard run and reception on that last drive were HUGE!
- I think the defense played conservatively due to Rees' effectiveness. They didn't show much in the 2nd half, hopefully saving some plays for Ohio.
- Finally, I wasn't very excited about the Harmon jersey prior to kickoff, but I've changed my opinion... Gardner looks great in ol' 98!
1. Gardner, Gallon and Dileo all impressed.
2. Our lines did not dominate, but played well enough to win. They will continue to improve throughout the season.
3. ND might be better than I thought.
4. Michigan might be better than I thought.
5. We need to get the running game (tailbacks) going.
6. Countess is all the way back and so is Fitz.
Give ND credit. Thier lines are superior to ours. Really. We have better OTs but thats it
Coached with Mac Brown in the past, was TX DC in 2004, and has been a consultant for the program this past year.
Considering the front 4 that they faced our O line did well. I want us to execute these next 2 weeks and get our backups some reps. Could be a special season.
Still somewhat concerned about team speed. The linebackers always were 1 step behind in dropping back in coverage which is why Rees was able to pick apart the zone. Gallon is a an awesome playmaker, but not a pure speed guy. They keep talking about Norfleet being a burner, but every time they run a sweep he gets caught from behind by an end or LB which doesn't exactly scream he's a speed threat. And finally the backs all run great downhill and are making great reads in the new zone blocking schemes, but I don't see any of them breaking big runs consistently.
I see us having a solid year, OSU matchup will be interesting, but against Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Oregon, I am not sure we cover 3 touchdowns. On the horizon the incoming classes have much more speed pedigrees so I think Hoke sees the writing on the wall.
but he's not Ace Sanders in the speed department.
Our three interior OLs have 6 total career starts between them. It's going to take some time for them to jell.
November will really test this young Michigan team.
Is there an echo?
My girl Mel Rich has some hops in the background!!
November will really test this young Michigan team.
I do disagree with 2 things though and that is that the second pass interference call was questionable. The first one I agree, it could easily have been a no call or even offensive pass interference. The second one though, on TV you could see that the defender was holding Funchess from the snap throughout his entire route and to top it off, he hit him before the ball arrived. No question that was as blatant a PI penalty as I have seen.
Second is saying that Gardner threw the pass directly at the D-lineman. I know it was a horrible pass, but saying it was thrown directly at the D-lineman is underselling what an impressive play he made on the ball. I hate that he did it, and hate that I have to give any ND player credit for anything, but that was definitely not thrown right at him and he made a great, especially considering his size. I mean picking off a ball at the best of times isn't easy (just look at James Ross dropping a ball thrown right at him). That was a hell of a play by the ND player.