BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published September 22, 2012
Pregame: No. 18 Michigan travels to South Bend to take on No. 11 Notre Dame under the lights at Notre Dame Stadium. Michigan has won this rivalry game in the last minute each of the past three years. Will Michigan be able to extend its winning streak against the Fighting Irish? Can Notre Dame finally knock off the Wolverines? Follow along below for live coverage of the game. Contribute to the conversation by tweeting at @TheBlockM or commenting on our Facebook page.
First Quarter: To kickoff 2012’s installment of the Michigan – Notre Dame series, the Wolverines started with the ball after a booming opening kickoff to the back of the end zone. From there, senior quarterback Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense stalled early.
Robinson didn’t complete any of his three passing attempts on the drive, and the only significant movement came on a pitch to junior Devin Gardner, who stepped back to pass on the fake. His throw was incomplete, but there was a pass interference on the play.
Later in the drive, the Notre Dame defense forced the Wolverines to punt, but the Fighting Irish didn’t hold onto the ball for long. On Notre Dame’s first play from scrimmage, quarterback Everett Golson underthrew his target and got picked by sophomore cornerback Raymon Taylor.
Even though Michigan’s drive started on Notre Dame’s 10-yard line, the Wolverines couldn’t convert the opportunity into points. The Irish pushed Michigan’s offense to the 25-yard line, and then redshirt junior placekicker Brendan Gibbons shanked the 43-yard field goal attempt.
Michigan’s defense came up strong again on Notre Dame’s next drive, though, forcing a punt after just one first down. On the following drive, Robinson completed the first pass of the game for either team with just over five minutes left in the quarter.
He led a methodical drive down the field, but from the red zone, senior running back Vincent Smith took the pitch and threw a pick in the end zone with just under a minute remaining in the quarter.
Second Quarter: Notre Dame started the second quarter with the ball on its own 31-yard-line, and the Michigan defense forced another quick punt. Ben Turk muffed the punt, booting it just 28-yards, and the Wolverines started with solid field position on their own 34-yard-line.
The Wolverines’ drive didn’t last long, though, as Robinson threw the ball right into the arms of star linebacker Manti Te’o for an easy pick on the first set of downs. The Michigan defense didn’t give up much on the following Notre Dame drive, but the Irish converted the turnover into a three points on a chip-shot field goal for the first points of the game.
The next Michigan drive looked relatively similar, Robinson throwing an interception on the first play, this time to cornerback Bennett Jackson. Robinson’s receiver was open, but he was under pressure and led him too far on the crossing route, and it landed in the defender’s arms.
This time around, the Irish couldn’t convert the mistake to points, and Golson threw his own pick in the end zone to Thomas Gordon. But then, not surprisingly at this point, Robinson tossed another interception on the following drive.
On Notre Dame’s next possession, Tommy Rees entered the game under center, relieving Golson of his signal-calling duties. He led a solid drive down to the Michigan one-yard. A pair of penalties pushed them back to a third-and-long situation, but freshman safety Jarrod Wilson got flagged for pass interference on the next play, giving Notre Dame first-and-goal on the one-yard line.
Rees kept the ball and scored on the next play, giving the Irish a 10-0 lead with 1:21 to play in the first half.
Robinson threw his fourth interception on the last play of the half, and Notre Dame entered the locker room with the same 10-point lead.
Third Quarter: Opening the second half with a 10-point lead, the Fighting Irish promptly went three-and-out and punted downfield to Michigan. On the Wolverines’ first snap, Robinson gave to redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who busted up the middle for 31 yards.
On the ensuing third down, Robinson found redshirt junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon for a first down. Three plays later, Robinson hit redshirt senior wide receiver Roundtree for another first down to the Notre Dame 23-yard line.
Facing a third down, Robinson cut through a hole in the middle before fumbling away to Notre Dame at the eight-yard line — his fifth turnover of the evening. At this point, Michigan had turned the ball over on six straight possessions.
The Fighting Irish punted with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter, giving the Wolverines the ball on the Michigan 43-yard line. On the brink of a three-and-out, Hoke sent the offense back on the field on fourth down, where Robinson found junior receiver Drew Dileo on a quick out for a first down.
Robinson continued to march Michigan into Notre Dame territory until, with a first-and-10 from the Notre Dame 22, the quarter came to a close.
Fourth Quarter: The Michigan offense couldn’t get back into rhythm after the quarter break, but Gibons knocked through a 33-yard chip shot to make the score 10-3 with 13:10 left on the clock.
With the score back to a one-touchdown defecit, Notre Dame’s offense started to click. Rees engineered a drive that — after an offsides call on redshirt junior tackle Quinton Washington — resulted in a 39-yard field goal to push the lead to 13-3.
Robinson led the Wolverines down the field, but the drive sputtered and Michigan was forced to settle for a field goal. Notre Dame was then able to run down the clock and end the game.