Last year in South Bend, Michigan felt like it was bedeviled in blowing the game, 23-25. What a difference a year makes!
Last year Michigan running back Chris Perry was out-rushed by Notre Dame's Ryan Grant 132 yards to 78. This year Perry ran for 133 and three touchdowns against a total of 49 rushing yards for the Irish. Perry also caught 4 passes for 44 more yards and yet another TD -- and is suddenly (at least for now) the Heismann front-runner!
Last year John Navarre was a mediocre 19-42 and threw the interception that ended Michigan's comeback effort. Today he was 24-31 for 200 yards, spreading the ball in a now-imaginative Michigan offense to Braylon Edwards (4 rec.), Perry (4 rec. and a TD), Jason Avant (3 rec.), Carl Tabb (2 rec.) and Tyrece Butler and Tim Massaquoi.
Last year Michigan's defense was effective at times but was burned at other times by Grant, and by the passing and running of Notre Dame quarterback Carlyle Holiday. This year the Wolverines not only shut down the Irish rushing game but Holiday as well, limiting him to 5-14 for 55 yards with two sacks and constant pressure. Notre Dame managed only 140 yards of total offense.
There was also redemption for Michigan cornerback Markus Curry, who last year was burned for a 47 yard touchdown pass, and subsequently was benched. This year he played well the whole game and made a great play to intercept a long pass in the second quarter.
And then there was Steve Breaston, the next great Michigan kick returner who had four punt returns for 105 yards.
In the end for Notre Dame it was too much Chris Perry, too much Steve Breaston, too much John Navarre and too much Larry Stevens, Pierre Woods and the U-M defensive pressure.
For Notre Dame it was just too much, a nightmare on Stadium and Main … for the Wolverines it was redemption.
Two points of note: Michigan's 80 yard drive in the third (and beginning of the fourth) quarter lasted 10:25 -- the longest drive time-wise in Michigan football history. Also, attendance was an all-time college football record, 111,726 – partly due to the zillion recruits and possible recruiting targets in attendance. Stay tuned for a recruits-spotted report.
Redemption! Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0!
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