Tommy Rees celebrates in the end zone with Notre Dame wide receiver Robby Toma after scoring a touchdown against Michigan during the first half. (Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)
Who would have ever guessed that Notre Dame would be 4-0 to start the season, with signature wins over both Michigan State and Michigan? The Notre Dame defense was unstoppable yesterday, intercepting four of Denard Robinson’s passes and keeping yet another team from the state of Michigan from scoring a touchdown. They came out on top, for a fourth straight week, beating Michigan by a score of 13-6 on Saturday.
On a day that was supposed to be a Heisman spotlight day for Denard Robinson, he issued an apology to Michigan fans following the game. “I want to say sorry to everyone who watches Michigan football and follows Michigan football,” Robinson said. “It won’t happen no more. I’m going to be accountable for the rest of the season. I don’t want to feel like this no more. In the 22 years I’ve been living, this is the most disappointed I’ve ever been in myself.” Quite a disappointing day for Robinson, who was also celebrating a birthday yesterday.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he never once considered pulling Robinson from the game. “The guy has done a pretty doggone good job being a quarterback at Michigan and made some good throws in the first half,” Hoke said. “You know, just better decision making and move forward.”
Robinson finished 13-of-24 passing for 138 yards and also rushed for 90 yards on 26 carries.
Notre Dame finished the first half with a 10-0 lead, despite having their own share of bad passes and penalties.
Everett Golson had a rough start on Saturday, and was replaced by Tommy Rees in the middle of the second quarter after throwing two interceptions, one in each quarter. Golson, had his worst start of the year, completing only 3-8 for 30 yards.
Tommy Rees delivered immediate results upon entering the game, driving the team 48 yards, completing 3 of 4 passes in his initial drive, before running in for a 2-yard touchdown increasing the Irish to 10-0. Tommy Rees finished the day 8-11 for 115 yards, leading the Irish to their first win over Michigan since 2008.
Notre Dame has a bye week this week and then travels to Soldier Field in Chicago to face Miami on Oct. 6. After the game, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly insisted that Golson will be his starter against Miami. Even though Kelly has yanked Golson twice already this season to be replaced by the more experienced Rees, he said he isn’t worried about Golson’s confidence.
“He needs to just settle down a little bit and he’s going to be fine,” Kelly said. “He was not as comfortable as I would have liked after playing the Michigan State game where he was in an incredible environment. He’ll have a week off to evaluate all the things.”
Everett Golson’s first interception came with 12 minutes left in the first quarter. Golson was throwing on first down from his 9-yard line and his pass intercepted on an underthrown ball down the left sideline. Michigan’s Raymon Taylor then returned the ball to the Irish 10-yard line.
The dominating Notre Dame defense responded quickly, sacking Robinson twice and pushing Michigan back to the Notre Dame 25-yard line. Michigan then decided to go for a field goal but their kicker Brendan Gibbons missed the 43-yard field goal attempt wide left.
Near the end of the first quarter, Robinson took his team 75 yards down the field in 11 plays, completing 5 of 6 passes. With first-and-goal from the Irish 10, Vincent Smith’s attempted pass in the end zone fell into the hands of Notre Dame freshman safety Nicky Baratti.
The Irish could not get much going on the subsequent possession. After a 1-yard run by Theo Riddick and two overthrown passes by Golson into the end zone, Notre Dame sends Kyle Brindza in to kick the 33-yard field goal and take the lead, 3-0 with 10:09 left in the first half.
On the first play of the next drive, Robinson threw yet another interception (his third). Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who had yet another tremendous game, returned the ball to the Michigan 39. But once again the Irish were not able to produce any points on the possession. Golson completed two passes, setting up a first-and-goal at the 10, but on a poor decision to pass on the run, Golson threw his second interception in the end zone.
On the following drive, it was yet another Michigan turnover. After rushes of 3, 8 and 3 yards, Robinson decided to throw a pass over the middle that was tipped into the hands of T’e’o (his second interception of the game) near midfield.
Things settled down somewhat for both teams in the second half, and it became a fierce battle of the two defensive units.
T’e’o, who had a dominating game with two interceptions and eight tackles, led a defense that didn’t allow a touchdown for a second straight week. T’e’o was the first Irish player to record multiple interceptions in a game against Michigan in the 40 games in the series. His teammate, Bennett Jackson, had a impressive day as well with nine tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. After the game Te’o commented on the win. “Four years ago when I decided to come here, I didn’t know why,” he said. “It’s starting to unveil itself why. We know how good we can be. The sky is the limit for not only this defense, but this whole team.”
Notre Dame now has a week off to rest and recover before they head over to Chicago on Oct. 6 to play Miami at Soldier Field.
With this victory over Michigan, Notre Dame improves to 16-23-1 (.413) in the all-time series with Michigan, and gives Notre Dame a season sweep of Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since 2004. It also gives the Irish victories over Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan in the same season for the first time since 2002. Notre Dame’s record against Big Ten foes improves to 233-124-16 (.646).
Also, check out my Twitter feed of the game told through Storify: http://t.co/r52mYxFs
Notre Dame over Michigan Highlights
Brian Kelly, post Michigan game presser
Player Interviews post Notre Dame-Michigan game