#5: Maurice Crum @ UCLA (October 6th, 2007)
The Stat Line:
7 Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 INT, 2 FF, 1 Fumble Recovery TD
The Final Score:
Notre Dame 20 - UCLA 6
I bet you never thought you'd see a game from this season on here. If there was going to be one, however, this was definitely going to be it.
Notre Dame had gotten off to an abysmal 0-5 start, including a truly humiliating 38-0 stomping at the hands of Michigan under lame-duck Lloyd Carr. This was coming off of a 2006 season where the Irish sputtered against JaMarcus Russell and LSU in the Sugar Bowl. The game against UCLA was a chance to get back into things, as the Bruins' backup quarterback Patrick Cowan was unavailable, and ND was able to knock starter Ben Olsen out of the game late in the first quarter, putting all of the pressure on redshirt freshman McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Despite these advantages (and the result of the game), the Irish ended up being outgained to the tune of 282 to 140 total offensive yards. Luckily for the Irish, Maurice Crum was the senior leader of the defense, and he played like it in this game.
(Full Highlights only, since it was 2007 after all)
ND went into second half down 6-3, another frustrating offensive performance that had Irish fans everywhere thinking "here we go again." After a quick 3rd quarter field goal to tie it up, UCLA got the ball back, and then Crum started his one-man wrecking crew by forcing a Kahlil Bell fumble with 5:45 remaining in the 3rd Quarter.
Following a David Bruton interception and ensuing goal line touchdown, McLeod Bethel-Thompson was sacked by John Ryan and Crum picked up the fumble and did the scoop-and-score routine all the way to the endzone, putting the Irish up 20-6. In a matter of only 4 minutes of gametime, Maurice Crum had put the hearts of Irish fans everywhere dreading 0-12 to ease. It would be a rough year, but not THAT rough.
Crum wasn't finished once the game was in hand against the rookie QB. He (along with the other members of the defense like David Bruton and Terrail Lambert) made sure to make Bethel-Thompson pay for every mistake. After two more interceptions from Crum (his first and only interceptions of the 2007 season), the game was decidedly in hand, and the Irish went on to win 20-6.
When it comes to taking advantage of your opponent's mistakes, no one did it better than Maurice Crum did it that day against UCLA, to get the Irish their first win of 2007. While the 2007 team lacked the star power of other Notre Dame teams and ultimately would have one of the worst years on record, it is moments like this one that let us look back and still appreciate and respect what those players have done for Irish football. Thanks Mo.
#5 - Maurice Crum @ UCLA (October 6th, 2007)