The Big House was packed to the brim with a NCAA record 115,109 fans in attendance as Michigan came out and handled Notre Dame.
Whether it was a big regional game or classic rivalry, Saturday’s showdown in Ann Arbor marked the end or possible break between Notre Dame and Michigan playing one another with the Wolverines walking away with the last laugh. Not only did Michigan secure the win, the song “Chicken Dance” played throughout the stadium after the game, most likely relating to Coach Hoke’s comments early in the year about Notre Dame chickening out of the rivalry.
Michigan's Devin Gardner stole the show on the field throwing for 294-yards, running for another 82, and finishing with a combined five touchdowns.
Gardner and Michigan got out to an early lead in the first quarter after a quick field goal and 61-yard touchdown pass following a couple of Notre Dame three-and-outs. Notre Dame would cut the lead but the tone was set for the rest of the game, Michigan moving the ball and scoring and the Fighting Irish playing catch-up.
Tommy Rees put in a decent first half before a costly interception led to a Michigan touchdown putting the Irish down 14 right before halftime.
ESPN reported that looking back Coach Kelly wasn’t too happy with that play explaining , “I'd like to have that one throw right before the half back," and provided an overall explanation of, "We came up just short on some key plays."
Rees one the other hand decided to take some blame and stated, "I take accountability for some of those throws and missed opportunities."
Regardless of the missed chances Notre Dame nearly crept back into the game in the fourth quarter after an interception touchdown by Stephan Tuit who was just able to snag Gardener's pressured throw.
Now within just a touchdown, the Irish again cut the lead down to just four points after another field goal make with just ten minutes to play in the game. Michigan began to drive the ball down the field with Notre Dame holding them twice on third down but unfortunately had pass interference penalties called both times, one being controversial. Michigan eventually scored another touchdown via another Gardner throw. It was now a two possession game with less than five minutes to go. Despite completing a few passes, Rees eventually capped off the game with another interception, giving Michigan the ball with little time to kill.
Notre Dame’s defense was not anywhere near ready for Michigan. The offense is put in a tough spot when the defense is giving up 41-points. The offense loses its fluidity when constantly having to worry about catching up as opposed to opening up the play calls.
Unfortunately playing the blame game doesn't change the situation. Michigan was the better team and deserved the win. Any hopes for a repeat national championship run for Notre Dame can be put to rest now. The Irish will now have to take everything one day at a time and focus on getting better if they don’t want another disappointing loss.