Notre Dame ended their series against Michigan by making history.
Shutting them out.
Amir Carlisle caught two touchdown passes and the Irish defense shut down the Michigan offense, turning what was typically a close series of games into a rout, as Notre Dame annihilated the Wolverines, 31-0 under the lights in South Bend.
The Irish were perfect in almost every category, though it didn't look that way initially.
The Irish spent all three timeouts in the first quarter, rattling the nerves of the Irish faithful. But all was right in the end.
Cam McDaniel kicked off the Irish scoring by hammering in a 1-yard touchdown which would be all that the Irish needed.
From there, the Irish defense kept things under control, forcing Michigan QB Devin Gardner into tough spots. With Michigan struggling to run the football, Gardner turned to his main weapon, Devin Funchess, with limited success. The Irish defense put a combination of Cole Luke and Cody Riggs on the Michigan man and while his 9 catches for 107 yards were solid, they kept him out of the end zone. Funchess would eventually leave the game in the 4th quarter with what looked like an ankle injury.
The Irish defense would get some points on the board as well, with Elijah Shumate, the much-criticized Irish safety, picked off a Gardner pass on the last play of the game and would run it to the house, though the referees would call the score back after Max Redfield lit up Gardner on the return.
The Irish passing game went to work in the second quarter. Golson connected with Amir Carlisle on a short score, giving the Irish a 14-0 lead. The USC-transfer was caught up in the Running Back tree last season and made the move to wideout and made a huge impact tonight, catching 7 passes from Golson for 62 yards and 2 scores (the other in the 3rd quarter). Golson would add another TD pass to Will Fuller before the half on a two-minute drill that was nothing short of perfection.
To his credit, Golson played smart after a shaky start, going 23 of 34 for 226 yards and three scores. One might actually make the argument that Golson would have had more completions but the Irish receivers had some uncharacteristic drops.
A few thoughts below:
Player of the Game: Amir Carlisle
This was the Amir Carlisle that Irish fans have been expecting since his arrival to South Bend. While Golson was his efficient self, Carlisle played out of his mind tonight and contributed on offense and on special teams. The Irish wide receiver caught 7 balls for 61 yards and a pair of scores and added 16 yards on Michigan's only kickoff.
Stop Gardner, Stop Michigan
Despite the NBC announcer's going ga-ga over Devin Funchess (face it, he's just a tight end with speed and we have a lot of those), the Michigan offense runs around the efficiency of Devin Gardner. With his elusiveness and escapability, he can be a threat to make plays. Tonight, the Irish defense effectively shut him down more than they did against Driphus Jackson last week. Gardner was a horrific 18-29 for 178 yards with no scores, 3 picks (one being the Shumate pick 6) and a lost fumble. The Irish brought various types of pressure and Irish Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder kept him guessing the entire night.
Special Teams were special again
I'll leave it to Punter Bro to break down everything that happened in this department, but the Irish special teams units are clearly better than last season. Outside of Cody Riggs' fumble on a first half punt return and some sloppy returns in the 2nd half, the Irish special teams clearly have turned a new leaf this season. Kyle Brindza is enjoying the new turf as he continued to boom the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs. The Irish benefitted from a Michigan missed FG and were able to block another (I'm giving it to them). Brindza was also able to down a punt at the 2-yard line in the third quarter as well. Make no mistake here. Whether it is Booker or not, the Irish Special Teams have gone from a liability to a core strength. Even the Irish Sports Information department is making sure people are noticing.
That was awesome
Wasn't it? I mean. Seriously. How awesome was that game?