A 24-17 victory over Michigan is what you’ll see in the box score, but the Notre Dame football squad couldn’t have done it without Chris Finke.
At the end of the season, the biggest takeaway from the opener for Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame football team will be that the Irish beat Michigan. Some other factors will be discussed, such as score and difficulty of the opponent, but there’s one that will not.
Chris Finke didn’t receive the game ball, nor was he the game’s MVP. What he did do was change the dynamic of the game.
With just over seven minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Irish already led 7-0. From midfield, Brandon Wimbush went for it all. With the ball in the air, it was up to Finke to make the play.
The only issue was that Michigan’s defense was in a better position to make the play. With the ball in the hands of defensive back, Brad Hawkins, Finke took matters into his own hands, as well as the ball.
Listed at 5-10, 180 pounds, Finke knows he’s outsized a by decent margin. Outsized but never outmatched, Finke was able to go over Hawkins and secure the ball.
His ridiculous catch shook Mike Tirico as well as everyone watching. While the rest of us looked to pick up our jaws, Finke’s catch quickly put the Irish up 14-0. From that moment, everyone knew Michigan was in trouble.
Finke gave the Irish control of the game with just one play.
If he doesn’t come down with this catch and Hawkins comes away with an interception, the whole dynamic changes.
In the world of “what ifs”, we have to wonder — if Hawkins intercepts the ball, does Michigan grab all momentum? Does Wimbush’s confidence get shaken and derail the rest of the game?
Instead, Finke made the catch and Notre Dame Stadium erupted, while the Irish ran with the momentum. He led all Notre Dame receivers with 55 yards and three catches on four targets making him the unsung hero of the game.