BY CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor
Denard Robinson turned 22 on Saturday. He faced Notre Dame one last time. Instead of celebrating his birthday, the Fighting Irish celebrated a win over the Michigan Wolverines, in thanks to Denard’s five turnovers of the night. A 13-6 win for Notre Dame was all the celebration that happened.
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The Notre Dame Fighting Irish took the happiness out of Robinson, and it was clear in his post-game interview. “I want to say sorry to everybody who watched football, watched Michigan football, and whoever follows Michigan football,” said Robinson. “I want to say sorry and it won’t happen no more. I’m going to be accountable for the rest of the season, I can tell you that much.” Denard was clearly distraught at his four interceptions and his fumble turnover.
Head coach Brian Kelly won his first game against Michigan, in four games, and the Fighting Irish finally beat the Wolverines for the first time in four years. The Irish caused six turnovers, for the first time since 2008. The last time that happened, they defeated Rich Rodriguez in his first season as Michigan head coach.
The Michigan Wolverine defense was very strong in the first half, in fact, they held the whole team in the game. They only allowed one touchdown and two field goals. Unfortunately, the Michigan offense couldn’t produce anything at all. After the first quarter, it was tied at zero. It went very fast and was over in what seemed like a matter of minutes. In what was a low-scoring game, the first points in the game came from a field goal in the second quarter.
Michigan could not put together a drive in which they didn’t turn it over. The Wolverines couldn’t respond and backup quarterback Tommy Rees came into the game, replacing starter Everett Golson, and surprisingly, performed much better than last year. He ran two-yards into the end zone, late in the first half, and just like that, the first half was over, 10-0 Notre Dame was up.
The last four possessions of the first half ended in turnovers. This game was not Michigan-like at all. It was very disappointing, especially for the Michigan faithful who traveled the 3 ½ hours to the game, and watching around the world. Fans were literally pulling their hair out over the end of the first half.
Many were hoping that Denard would relax in the second half, and perform much better. Turned out to be the same. He wasn’t pulled, and when head coach Brady Hoke was asked if he ever thought about pulling him, he distinctly said, “No.”
Points were finally put on the board by the Wolverines by Brandon Gibbons, who missed a field goal in the first half. This 33-yard field goal was good and it cut the lead to only 10 points, early in the fourth quarter.
The third quarter had no scoring, yet another defensive quarter by both sides. The Irish responded with a field goal of their own mid-fourth quarter, and it looked like it was going to be over. Kyle Brindza nailed a 39-yard field goal to go up 13-3, and it was yet another 10 point deficit for the Wolverines. As many fans channeled their inner 2011 Night Game, the Wolverines tried to do the same. Unfortunately, no magic was in the cards tonight for the Wolverines. They came up a touchdown short of winning.
Gibbons hit another field goal near the end of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 13-6, but couldn’t muster a stop on defense. The Fighting Irish went and celebrated with their fans after the game.
As the Wolverines head into the bye week, they will be working on the fundamentals according to Hoke. “We all have to do a better job,” said Hoke. “I thought our defense kept us in the game. I need to do a better job of coaching football.”
The Wolverines will probably fall in the rankings, but they have two weeks to prepare for Purdue. There is still a shot at the B1G Ten Championship, and Brady was sure to address that. It’s a tough loss for the boys in blue, but look for them to regroup and come out harder, faster, and stronger against the Boilermakers. Go Blue!
To read the original article that appeared in the third issue of The Michigan Journal, on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, go to www.michiganjournal.org