Irish hand Michigan first shutout since 1984; Earn bragging rights with 31-0 win


In what is likely the final meeting for the foreseeable future, the No. 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish made a statement. And it’s one the Michigan Wolverines aren’t likely to forget for quite a while.

Everett Golson was impressive once again as the Irish (2-0) shutout the Wolverines (1-1), the first time since they were shutout by Iowa in 1984, and handed them their most lopsided loss in the series. It ended the longest streak in college football.

In a game that was expected to see two of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, only one stood out. And a defense that left some questions last week against Rice rose to the occasion, blanking a Michigan team that many were picking for the upset.

Things started shaky for the Irish, as they were forced to call a timeout before they even ran their first play from scrimmage. They would call their second a few plays later, and it seemed the level headed Golson was nowhere to be seen. The Irish were forced to punt on their first possession of the game, turning it over to Michigan and Devin Gardner, who torched the Irish in last year’s loss at Michigan.

Gardner went to Devin Funchess on the second play of the drive, and that wasn’t expected to stop. With his size (6-5, 230 lbs.) he was an immediate mismatch for whoever was in coverage. But the drive stalled, and Michigan was forced to attempt a 46 yard field goal. Matt Wile missed it to the left and the Irish dodged an early bullet.

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Golson settled in on his second drive, and looked like the quarterback that dominated in last week’s game. He went 3-for-3 on the drive, and was helped by two defensive pass interference penalties. The second put the ball on the Michigan one yard line, where Cam McDaniel punched it in for the first score of the game.

Michigan would work their way into field goal range again on their following drive, but Wile again missed, hitting a line drive right into the middle of the defensive line. It would be the best chance at points the Wolverines would see the rest of the game.

From there the Irish offense took over and never looked back. Golson moved the ball around, finding five different receivers on the following drive, culminating with the touchdown pass to Amir Carlisle. Golson was 22/34 on the night, for 226 yards and three touchdowns. The most telling stat was zero turnovers, while the defense created four of them.

The Irish would up the score to 21-0 before the half, as Golson connected with William Fuller (9 Rec, 89 yds, TD) down the right side with a beautiful jump ball that he hauled in for the score.

The Irish defense continued to play aggressive, shutting down the run game, and keeping Gardner off-balance all game. After taking a 28-0 lead on an Amir Carlisle touchdown on a screen pass, Michigan did their best to answer. Gardner (19/32, 189 yds, 3 INT) hit Funchess (9 Rec, 107 yds) up the right sideline for a 33 yard completion, and Michigan was in business. But two plays later as Garner scrambled out of the pocket, he was hit by Joe Schmidt and fumbled, and the Irish recovered.

The Irish added a field goal, but never gave Michigan any legitimate chance of putting points on the board.

Michigan actually outgained the Irish in total yards (289-290), and led in time of possession (33:05-26:55). But the Irish dominated the line of scrimmage, created key turnovers, and were by far the better team on the field.

Everett Golson took another step forward as being recognized as one of the better quarterback in the nation. How good is this Michigan team? That’s yet to be seen. But Golson came up on a big stage and played the game he needed to play. Much different from the BCS title game in 2012.

With the five player still suspended while under investigation, the Irish showed that the players who are on the field are more than ready for the task at hand.

With a very tough schedule this season, the Irish needed this game on many levels. But in the end, bragging rights for however long they may have them cannot be ignored. As a fan right in the middle of it, it means a lot to me. It does for the players too, even if the coaches try to sweep that talk under the rug.

The Irish will battle the Purdue Boilermakers next week in the 2014 Shamrock Series game at Lucas Oil Field. Kickoff will be at 7:30 pm ET.