Michigan 41, Notre Dame 30, Sanity 0

Submitted by Ace on September 8th, 2013 at 1:06 AM

Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog

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.


Monocle Smile

September 8th, 2013 at 1:09 AM ^

I feel negative sympathy for the Fig Things. Pass rush was bad, but the DL was getting the BEJESUS held out of them every other play. Like, egregious shoulder-pads-popping-out holding. No calls. The PI calls and the booted ball to Countess was karma.


September 8th, 2013 at 1:13 AM ^

I think both PI calls were justified. Both defenders used their hands to interfere with the receiver's ability to make a play on the ball. On the Gallon one he pushed him right out of the play and the other defender was basically hanging on Funchess for the second one.


September 8th, 2013 at 2:34 AM ^

I thought the second one was pretty cut and dry. He grabbed the jersey and stretched it out away from Funchess's body right in front of the ref. Judging by the ND guy's reaction, he new it was going to get called before the flag came out.

The first one, it's impossible to tell from the camera angles. It's all contingent on if the ball was in the air or not. From the timing of the different angles, it sure looked like the defender got on last shove in late.

SC Wolverine

September 8th, 2013 at 7:38 AM ^

I agree.  They were not only justified, but they were demanded.  In the first call, the defender had shoved Gallon out of the way in order to take his place in front of the ball.  The second call was not questionable in any way.  The guy was all over Funchess.  The only reason people wouldn't think it looked bad is simply how big Funchess is.  Very nice to benefit from good refereeing.


September 8th, 2013 at 8:20 AM ^

I agree: NCAA Rulebook for 2012


The Notre Dame player is making illegal contact down the field past the neutral zone and then again while the ball is in the air.  That could be enough to call it on that alone.

The Notre Dame player was looking back at the ball as Herbstreit says, but that only allows you "incidental" contact in playing the ball.  Shoving to push off back towards the ball is not incidental and creates separation that impedes Gallon's attempt to make a play (offensively or defensively).

Would it be alright for the Notre Dame player to shove Gallon from the side to create separation?  No.  Why would it be okay here?


Obviously I am a Michigan fan, but I don't really even see it as that controversial that these Notre Dame refs (ACC) threw the flag.


September 8th, 2013 at 5:13 AM ^

Yeah, those PI calls weren't questionable.  The DB has to stop jamming the receiver when the ball is in the air and he continued to shove Gallon around even as the ball was half way to him, thats a really easy call.  The second one was obvious in the replay as well, the defender was tugging on Funchess's jersey the entire way.


I don't know how we won this game when we got destroyed in the trenches on both sides of the ball, I was uneasy the entire time, games like this are going to give me an ulcer!


September 8th, 2013 at 8:19 AM ^

I think their dbs are taught to see how much they can get away with. I thought there was a lot of contact all night long. The first of those two pi calls, dude two hand pushed gallon or of bounds. Pretty straight forward. I have to say i didn't see it during the play but I thought the replay was pretty straight forward.
The second one, Funchess was tackled before the ball got there, just about. Very obvious. As someone else said, Notre Dame dude had his head down and showed no reaction when he was called for the p.i. I'm pretty sure he's knew it was coming. It was more obvious than the first.


September 8th, 2013 at 1:16 AM ^

or Stoned?  I really thought Brent was going to ask him what drugs he was doing.  Embarassing for ESPN is that Marshall will be doing a halftime show next week at one of their venues.


September 8th, 2013 at 9:58 AM ^

I thought he had some fun with Musberger when he said he had picked him for his fantasy announcer's team. That bore fruit later when Brent completely ignored the fact the game had started -- I was hoping he would say something like, "Hey, shouldn't you be calling the game?" -- instead, it was just "I'm uncomfortable."

Zone Left

September 8th, 2013 at 1:20 AM ^

I think Gallon did a great job of selling a dubious PI to get the flag. However, Jake Butt was taken down in the end zone the play prior. Notre Dame's defender had a handful of jersey to the point where it was off of his damn shoulder pad!!! I thought the Gallon call was basically cosmic payback for that one.


September 8th, 2013 at 1:25 AM ^

Spot on.  I'm 43 and if there's one thing I've learned with the ND-UM game it's that crazy stuff almost always happens.  I'm just glad that for the most part lately it's been good crazy stuff for UM cause for a looong time it seemed like the crazy stuff always bounced ND's way.


September 8th, 2013 at 1:26 AM ^

The pass interference calls were completely legit. This wasn't a WR and DB hand checking each other for the ball. The Notre Dame DB with the ball in the air pushed Gallon's body away from the play to try and make a play on the ball. That's pass interference.

The second one I was less convinced until I saw the replay where the guy looked like he was draped over Funchess and then came up with a handful of a #87 jersey.


September 8th, 2013 at 1:33 AM ^

"only the 2009 and 2010 games compare to tonight's in my (admittedly recency-biased) memory."


2009 (Forcier) and 2010 (Denard goes berserk 1.0) had incredible finishes, but UTL 1 was in 2011...and I think we can pretty safely call that one the clubhouse leader in end-of-game lunacy


September 8th, 2013 at 1:41 AM ^

One thing I'll say for Notre Dame, they were a worthy opponent for UTL.  

It's a big step down to waste it on Arkansas or a sanctions-riddled Penn State.