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Things People Forget About Notre Dame Football: Blowing up Megatron, Stormin’ Michigan and Cinematic Glory

Win just one for the Zipper

This week in Things People Forget About Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football, we’re taking a look at some more moments that made people briefly believe in Charlie Weis and a cinematic tribute to the Irish that didn’t star Sean Astin or Ronald Reagan. Let’s do this.

Chinedum Ndukwe Blew Up Calvin Johnson

The Irish opened the 2006 season with a moderately difficult test, taking on a game Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets team that featured one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the country: Calvin Johnson. The future NFL Hall of Famer got his numbers against the Irish, with 7 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. But the game’s most memorable moment involving Megatron was actually a jaw-dropping (and game-changing, as Johnson was targeted downfield) pass breakup via a big hit by Chinedum Ndukwe. Bear witness to greatness:

Absolute devastation by the future Cincinnati Bengal/commercial real estate rockstar. Say what you will about Tyrone Willingham’s recruiting shortcomings, but he did have an eye for safeties who liked to hit.

The 2008 Michigan Game, Generally

I promised I would reference this absolute nut job of a game of a few weeks ago, so here it is. In 2008 a wildly uneven Irish team took on Rich Rodriguez’s first Michigan Wolverines squad and the results were absolutely bananas. Behold the madness:

Six turnovers by the Skunkbears amid stormy conditions in South Bend, including a fumble on the opening drive almost immediately following a fumbled-and-recovered kickoff, with a second consecutive fumbled kickoff recovered by the Irish to establish a 14-0 lead. Other key moments as the Irish cruised to a 35-17 W:

  • Golden Tate Runs Deep in its purest form
  • Brian Smith’s scoop-and-score
  • Gary Gray turning toward the quarterback and intercepting a pass against Michigan
  • Sam McGuffie actually looking like an absolute beast who I wish had been able to keep playing, and I sincerely mean that despite my hatred of Michigan.

Oh yeah, and our head coach was accidentally kneecapped on the sideline by one of his own players, suffering a torn ACL and broken femur that forced him to spend the rest of the season on crutches. Just an absolutely insane up-and-down day in South Bend, and sadly the last time the Irish would beat Michigan until 2012.

Airplane is Chock Full of Notre Dame Football Tributes

When most people think of Notre Dame football at the movies, they think Rudy and Knute Rockne, All-American. But perhaps my favorite Notre Dame movie moment comes from an otherwise unrelated film that is also a GOAT candidate in the comedy genre. That’s right, I’m talking about Airplane! and a monologue delivered by American treasure Leslie Nielsen’s Dr. Rumack to the traumatized pilot Ted Striker. See if you notice anything familiar in here:

That’s right, that’s the Notre Dame Victory March playing as Striker gets back into the cockpit to “win just one for the Zipper”. The fight song plays again during the film’s end credits. Just a delightful testament to what was perhaps the peak of Notre Dame’s saturation in popular culture in the late twentieth century.

That’s it for this week, folks. If you have any random tidbits of trivia, be sure to send them our way.