Notre Dame says goodbye to Michigan with lopsided shutout
Everett Golson and Notre Dame said so long to Michigan with a devastating parting shot. When it was over, the Fighting Irish celebrated their most-lopsided victory in the history of series — and the only thing playing in the stadium was the alma mater and the fight song by the band.
Golson threw three touchdown passes and No. 16 Notre Dame beat the Wolverines 31-0 victory, snapping Michigan’s NCAA record streak of games without being shut out at 376 before the rivalry goes into hiatus.
Coach Brian Kelly tried to downplay the win a little.
"It only counts for one," he said, before adding: "I’d be lying if I told you that it didn’t feel great to shut out Michigan, 31-to-nothing," stressing the 31.
Game No. 42 in a rivalry that has been off-and-on for more than 100 years is the last scheduled. Notre Dame broke off the series a couple years ago to make room on its schedule to accommodate its new arrangement with the Atlantic Coast Conference. Michigan didn’t take it well.
Coach Brady Hoke jokingly accused the Fighting Irish of chickening out before last year’s game at Ann Arbor. Then after Michigan beat the Irish, "The Chicken Dance" blared through the sound system at the Big House.
No hard feelings?
"It was great revenge," Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith said.
The previous most lopsided victory for Notre Dame against Michigan as 35-12 in 1943. The last time the Wolverines were shut out was 26-0 by Iowa on Oct. 20, 1984.
This one will probably sting longer, considering the circumstances.
"We will bounce back," Hoke said. "This is a very resilient, hard-working group of young men, who know what it takes to win."
Golson was 23 for 34 for 226 yards.
Devin Gardner was 19 for 32 for 189 yards and committed four second-half turnovers for Michigan.
Maybe it was just a coincidence that this week Notre Dame announced a future home-and-home with Ohio State, Michigan’s hated rival — and a team that has owned the Wolverines in recent years. Still, this is a rivalry that has been generally quite civil in recent years. Two of the bluest of bloods in college football history, they are the winningest programs ever by percentage. They have combined for 1,787 victories. In fact, Michigan had a chance to take back the top spot by beating the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame and Michigan may not love each other, especially these days, but they’ve always seemed to like being associated with one another. Classic uniforms. Recognizable fight songs (they sound a little alike to an untrained ear). They both tout their high academic standards and doing things the right way.
The traditional early season meeting between the Irish and Wolverines has always been a measuring stick.
But things change. Notre Dame now has artificial turf and an interlocking ND logo at midfield. And Michigan has now been shut out for the first time in 30 years.
The golden domes and winged helmets will now go their separate ways. Michigan leads the series 24-17-1, but Notre Dame will get to bask in this one for a while.
Kelly came to Notre Dame five years ago, promising to recruit better athletes and install an up-tempo spread offense. Notre Dame went to a national championship game in 2012 on the strength of its defense. Golson was a redshirt freshman starter who Kelly said just "rode the bus" to the BCS title game. He didn’t even finish the 13-6 victory against Michigan that year.
Then Golson watched last season, suspended from school for academic impropriety.
Now, Golson is in the driver’s seat.
He was pinpoint and poised in the first half, leading Notre Dame to a 21-0 lead.
Golson mostly worked the intermediate and short middle of the field, until he went deep down on a third-and-1 to Will Fuller, who stretched to make the catch and still keep a foot inbounds for a 24-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left.
Notre Dame still looks as if it can play some defense, though it’s hard to tell just how good the Irish are on that side of the ball from this game. Michigan’s offense, a mess last year, still looks out of sorts under new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
The offense devolved into Gardner needing to make a play under pressure far too often. It didn’t work in 2013 and it had no chance against Smith, Sheldon Day and Notre Dame’s feisty defense.
When Golson slipped an inside screen to Carlisle, who scooted 12 yards for a TD, it was 28-0 with 3:02 left in the third quarter.
Michigan lost its 11th straight road game to a ranked team, the last win came in South Bend in 2006, and Hoke fell to 7-12 away from Ann Arbor.