Obviously one game does not make a season of games, but an opening game loss to a high-profile team like Notre Dame can make for a season that appears much tougher, and increases the realism of fan apprehension.

ND punished a napping M defense early with a 75-yard drive for a TD in the first quarter, and then scored another TD on a 43-yard pass around the 7:09 mark of the second quarter.

A defensive mistake by M’s Josh Metellus got him ejected for targeting.  Brad Hawkins replaced him at safety for Brad’s first  significant playing time as a Wolverine.  The Wolverines managed a 28-yard field goal before Ambry Thomas made an extraordinary kick return, toting the leather 99-yards for one of the finest kick-off returns I’ve ever seen. It was10-21 Irish at the half.

The Wolverines opened the third quarter with a 52-yard reception by Nico Collins, and it seemed things were looking up.

Then errant handling of a snap by the M holder, turned an M FG goal attempt into a desperation run to the sideline, and the drive was ruined.  The only score of the third quarter was a 48-yard Irish FG.  The quarter ended with a Brandon Watson interception and 19-yard return.  Again, an attempt to convert a first down on fourth down failed, and the Wolverines went empty handed.

Finally, Karan Higdon ran the ball into the end zone for the first M offensive TD of the season, but a final of 17-24 in favor of the Irish was posted into the books.


While Shea Patterson had an interception and fumble late in the game, he displayed enough poise, pass accuracy, determination, and other characteristics to believe the future at the QB is sound, despite a late interception and fumble.  Extreme pressure by the Irish defensive pass rush created the problem, but he should have thrown it away.  As to  the fumble, he was again under heavy pressure.  I am not making excuses for him, but like Dragnet’s Joe Friday used to say, “Its just the facts”. Even in a losing cause Shea cause, Shea competed well and displayed many of the characteristics of a good QB.

Early in the fourth quarter Shea Patterson was injured and left the game in favor of Dylan McCaffrey.  Dylan handled himself with poise under pressure, and was substituted into the game again a short time later.  Finally, Karan Higdon ran the ball into the end zone for the first M offensive TD of the season, but a final of 17-24 in favor of the Irish was posted to the books.

I wish I could write the same about the offensive line. They did not protect well, allowing 3 sacks, 7 TFLs, as well as 6 hurries.  They did not provide the holes for a successful running game. 58-yards on 33 carries is dismal.  Granted this was against a good defense, and the M offensive line is probably better than last year, but their play needs to become more prolific.  One offensive TD is obviously not enough.

DEFENSE GETS A LESSON: While there was a touch of Michigan defensive domination in the second half, the first half was a disaster. The stats for the first half show 233-yards for the Irish, and two early TDs.

M’s second half defense did improve dramatically.

SPECIAL TEAMS:  Prior to the game I worried about special teams.  They scored points, and made only one significant gaffe.  They allowed no large returns.  Ambry Thomas was player of the game.

AFTERTHOUGHTS: The Wolverines faced Notre Dame sorely needing a “prestige win” in order to set the path for the high order of success that Coach Harbaugh needed to validate his 4th season as the Wolverines Head Coach, and the Wolverines needed as a team to sink the memory of their three dismal losses to end last season.  Since 2006 or thereabouts, away wins against ranked teams have become scarcer.  But there will be other chances for a prestige win, this season, and all other goals remain intact.

It was not to be as the Irish owned the day.  The Wolverines never led, and scored only one offensive TD before late in the fourth quarter.  ND played the much better game, offensively and defensively.

The Wolverines have not acheived a Big Ten Championship in more than a decade, and everything else must build on that foundation.

Let’s step back from the ledge as that goal is still intact.  This M team will be a good team still, with a chance to taste greatness.