Beyond the Boxscore: Notre Dame Stops Central Michigan 41-17 in Penalty-Plagued Battle

In a game in which lapses and mistakes against a heavy underdog emerged, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish improved to 4-0 on the season with a victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas. Despite the final score, the inability to dominate an undermanned opponent suggests that the Irish had their sights set on next week’s huge clash.

There were still plenty of positives, with the Notre Dame offense rolling up another big day with 578 yards of offense. Yet, the fact that Central still managed to put up a fight without its starting quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr. somewhat dimmed that output.

Below are some of the key aspects of the game:

The Penalty Problem

Last week’s win over North Carolina State was marred by an array of penalties assessed to Notre Dame, with that issue again surfacing against the Chippewas with 74 yards lost on eight flags. Reserve defensive lineman Joshua Burnham’s flag for roughing Chippewa quarterback Jace Bauer in the opening quarter sparked the Central offense to its first score to tie the game at seven apiece.

Late in the first half, a pass interference call against Irish defensive back Jaden Mickey and an offsides call was part of the Chippewas’ second scoring drive. In the third period, a holding call on guard Pat Coogan came just after a 42-yard pass to Rico Flores and helped kill the momentum of the drive. Notre Dame did salvage a 50-yard field goal out of the drive but such miscues can end up being fatal against teams like their next foe, Ohio State.

Big Play Issues

Another cause for concern in the victory stemmed from the multiple big plays allowed by the defense. In each of Central’s three scoring drives, a key play against the Irish defense moved the chains for the visitors, In the first instance, a 16-yard pass play came immediately after Burnham’s roughing the passer flag.

In the Chippewas’ next scoring push, a 25-yard by Marion Lukes got things going and a 31-yard toss to Tyson Davis put Central in the Notre Dame Red Zone. Finally, a 37-yard pass to Jesse Prewitt again put the Chippewas deep in the Irish territory, with a field goal the ultimate result.

Sudden Impact

The Irish offense wasn’t without some big-play potential of its own with wide receiver Tobias Merriweather and converted wideout Chris Tyree delivering in that area in the first half. Meriweather scored the first touchdown of the game on a 75-yard scoring pass that followed 16 yards on three carries from Audric Estime.

Tyree made his presence felt just three plays into the second period when he caught Hartman’s pass and raced 76 yards for what turned out to be the Irish’s final score of the first half. In the game, Tyree had another catch for 12 yards and now has nine receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns.

Consistency in the Backfield

The value of adding Sam Hartman behind center again proved to be a sharp offseason call as the signal-caller was 16-of-26 for 330 yards and three touchdowns. In his first four games in an Irish uniform, Hartman has now gone past the 1,000-yard threshold and thrown for 13 scores without throwing an interception.

Estime finished up with 176 yards on 26 carries and now has 524 yards on just 63 carries for the season. That’s an eye-popping 8.3 yards per carry and includes five scoring runs. As has been the custom this season, his runs on the afternoon included a lengthy scamper of 41 yards that helped set up the final Irish touchdown. In addition, he watched his 72-yard scoring run get called back because of a holding call.

Third Down Shut Down

One area where the Notre Dame defense excelled on the afternoon was in the area of third-down efficiency as they held the Chippewas to just three successes in 13 attempts. Numbers like that are what the Irish defenders delivered in the first two games, when they stopped Navy and Tennessee State, respectively to four-of-14 in that department.

Of course, as five-touchdown favorites, such numbers should be routine. In this case, the numbers were simply a positive on a day in which the Irish avoided looking past their opponent. Now, the nightmare scenario of a stunning upset can be put to rest and preparation for next week can begin in earnest

Next Up

One of college football’s biggest games this season takes place at Notre Dame Stadium next Saturday night. That’s when the Irish will host the 3-0 Ohio State Buckeyes in a rematch of last year’s season opener, a game in which Notre Dame will be seeking revenge. ESPN College GameDay will be in town for the first time since 2020 for the matchup. Prior to that meeting, the two schools had only met four other times during the regular season, with the Irish’s last win in the series going back an amazing 87 years to 1936 when Elmer Layden was in his third season.

You may also like


  1. How can anyone care about baseball?
    Win just 60 percent of your games, your team makes the playoffs.
    Hit .400 and you’re a Hall of Famer.
    If any pro athelete was also once considered a baseball prospect, the media forever touts him as an athletic wunderkind.
    So boring, fans don’t stop eating. But they do get to stare at their phone while sitting instead of standing.

  2. I really hope this was just a case of ‘looking ahead.’ Penalties are always concerning because it shows a lack of discipline and focus. Mistakes like they made Saturday can be overcome against Central Michigan, and even NC State to some extent. But against the level of Ohio State, they can really cost you.

    Still, they won pretty handily at the end of the day. If they do beat OSU then they have a real shot at the playoffs, assuming they win out after that of course. But they can’t afford to make mistakes and they must put it all out there. Anything less and OSU will eat us for lunch.

    Go Irish!

    1. I agree. The optimist says, they were looking ahead and got distracted, and now they can really focus. The pessimist says, that weren’t focused, and BTW – Ohio State was facing the same situation and they scored 63 points. What will it be Saturday? Optimism or pessimism? We’ll see.

      Go Irish!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button