Ann Arbor (UHND.com) — Notre Dame cracked the top 25 this week. After Saturday, they could crack the top 10 after beating the #3 ranked Wolverines on their home turf 17-10. The Irish took the opening kickoff and marched down the field with a 12 play drive that ended with a Rhema McKnight touchdown and never looked back.
Notre Dame overcame a sluggish offense and an ill timed turnover in their 2nd straight road win over a ranked opponent. After scoring 14 first half points and taking a 14-3 lead into halftime, the Irish offense could only muster a field goal in the 2nd half and used timely defense to keep Michigan out of the end zone until late in the 4th quarter.
Brady Quinn and the Irish offense moved the ball well in the first half with 188 yards of offense including two touchdown passes to Jeff Samardjiza and McKnight. Darius Walker added 93 yards on the ground in the first half, but was held to only 9 more yards in the second half.
Michigan had 3 attempts into the red zone result in 0 points. An interception, a fumble, and a turnover on downs kept the Wolverines out of the end zone and kept the Irish in command until freshman receiver Mario Manningham took a pass 25 yards for a touchdown on 4th and 3 to get Michigan in the game.
Trailling 14-3, Michigan quarterback Chad Henne didn’t see an open receiver instead opting for tight end Kyle Ecker. Tommy Zbikowski stepped in front of Ecker at the goal line and ended the scoring threat.
Michigan was not done squandering scoring opportunities though. After converting a 4th and short with a long pass to Jason Avant, Michigan had the ball at the Notre Dame 1 yard line. After 1 unsuccessful quarterback sneak, Lloyd Carr decided he should try it again. Henne fumbled the ball and after a booth review of the play Notre Dame was awarded the ball.
This came after Michigan had the ball inside the Irish 5 while failing to score any points after Chad Henne badly overthrew Jason Avant in the end zone.
Michigan lost their talented running back Michael Hart with an injury in the first quarter. Freshman Kevin Grady however filled in nicely with 79 yards on 18 carries.
Hart was not the only significant injury in the game. Notre Dame lost Rhema McKnight with a knee injury in the 2nd quarter. McKnight’s injury looked pretty bad, but he was able to walk off the field with the help of trainers. His status is unknown, but with the way his knee twisted on that play could result in a lot of lost time.
It appeared as though this would be the high scoring affair everyone thought it would be after Notre Dame came out in the shot gun and used a no huddle offense on the first drive to take the early lead. The much maligned Michigan defense however stiffened up and gave the Irish offense problems the rest of the day.
Part of Notre Dame’s offensive struggles in the 2nd half were self inflicted with penalties, the Walker fumble, and missed receivers by Brady. Quinn’s completion percentage was high because of a lot of short passes, but the down field passing game for Notre Dame was ineffective most of the day. Quinn missed some open receivers early on and held onto the ball too long at times in the 2nd half.
The win is Notre Dame’s first in Ann Arbor since 93 and marks the first time since 1918 that a Notre Dame coach has opened his tenure with 2 straight wins in opponents stadiums. The last coach to do it? Some guy named Knute.