Last night in South Bend the Fighting Irish (4-0) accomplished something never thought possible in recent years. Well, make that two things. For starters, Notre Dame extended its 2012 unbeaten streak to a 4-0 mark, not seen since 2002, in a hard fought victory over long time rivals Michigan (2-2) 13-6.
And they did so by making Notre Dame-killer appear Denard Richardson appear normal for one night.
The athletic and elusive heart of the Wolverines ferocious offense was a only a shell of himself in Notre Dame stadium, amassing a mere 228 total yards, no touchdowns, and 6 turnovers. Robinson was a far cry from his usual unstoppable self against the Irish.
Just last season he totaled 406 yards and 4 TDs in last season’s stunner over Notre Dame and holds the all-time record of 1,197 total yards against the blue and gold.
Yet, you can really never rest easy with that wily Wolverine on the prowl with the ball in his hands and the game on the line. Michigan trailed Notre Dame only 10-0 early in the second half as Robinson engineered a drive deep into Notre Dame territory in what seemed like a repeat of Michigan’s last season’s 28-point fourth quarter. The Wolverine QB then learned that this Notre Dame defense is much improved from those of years past and was forced into a game-losing turnover.
This 2012 Notre Dame D is on par with the dominating unit of the 1998 national championship team and continued its dominance against the Wolverines by not allowing a rushing TD for a second straight game and only allowing 6 points (36 in total on the season). LB Manti T’eo, the team’s defensive heart and leader, was the undisputed MVP Saturday night turning in a usual day at the office with two interceptions and 8 tackles (one for a loss). He was aided by Fighting Irish defensive stalwarts S Bennet Jackson (9 tackles, key fumble recovery), LB Carlo Calabrese (5 tackles, 1 for a loss) as well as LB Prince Shembo and DE Stephon Tuitt who each notched 2
tackles (1 for a loss) and a sack each. (Tuitt is second in the nation with 6 total sacks)
Brian Kelly recognized the outstanding achievement of his defense against Michigan.
"A great team win for our guys. Defensively what can I say? Six turnovers, limited who we felt is one of the most dynamic offensive players in the country to no touchdowns. Just an incredible performance by our defense."
The Fighting Irish offensive fight was not as strong. For the second time this season QB Tommy Rees came off the bench in the second half to relieve the floundering starting QB Everet Golson (3-of-8, 2 Interceptions) Rees, throwing for a 115 yards on 8 completions capably steered the Fighting Irish to victory. His late 30-yard strike to a very quiet TE Tyler Eifert secured the 13-6 victory.
In an on field post-game interview Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly squelched any rumblings of a QB controversy by clearly stating that Golson will continue to be the team’s starter and Rees will come off the bench when the team is in a pinch.
The undefeated Fighting Irish have earned a well-deserved rest this week and will return to action for the Shamrock Series” against the Miami Hurricanes in Chicago on October 6th.