Written by Garin Turner
A historic rivalry returned last night as the 12th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish held off a comeback attempt from the 14th ranked Michigan Wolverines 24-17. The Wolverines are now 1-6 with Harbaugh at the helm against their rivals, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Notre Dame. “It was a physical football game and we expected it to be,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said.
South Bend, Ind. had a green out and the place was rocking all throughout the game. Notre Dame scored on its first two drives against a Michigan defense that’s been one of the best in previous years. Jafar Armstrong capped off a seven play, 75-yard drive when he scored on a 13-yard run. Chris Finke caught a 43-yard pass for a score from quarterback Brandon Wimbush on the second drive to put the Irish ahead 14-0. “I think the offensive line handled a lot tonight,” Kelly said.
After a Michigan field goal, Notre Dame scored again on a 4-yard run by Armstrong. That ended a 15 play, 75-yard drive. On the kickoff, Ambry Thomas ran it back 99 yards for the score to make it 21-10 going into the half.
In the second half, both teams traded interceptions and Michigan turned the ball over on downs twice. The Fighting Irish added a field goal and Michigan made things interesting with just 2:18 left in the game when Karan Higdon scored on a 3-yard run. Michigan did what it needed to do and forced a three and out but then quarterback Shea Patterson fumbled after he was sacked by Jerry Tillery and that ended the comeback attempt for the Wolverines. “We didn’t have enough explosive plays,” Harbaugh said.
Wimbush was 12/22 for 170 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was also the leading rusher for the Irish, carrying the ball 19 times for 59 yards. Armstrong had 15 carries for 35 yards and the two scores. Tony Jones Jr. added nine carries for 45 yards for the Irish. Finke had three receptions for 55 yards and the score to lead all Irish receivers.
For the Wolverines, it was the debut for the transfer quarterback Patterson. Patterson played last year at Ole Miss. He was 20/30 for 227 yards but had two turnovers. Dylan McCaffrey also saw action for the Wolverines going 4/6 for 22 yards. Higdon ran 21 times for 72 yards and a score. Nico Collins had three receptions for 66 yards to lead all Wolverine receivers. “I thought he (Patterson) did a lot of what we asked,” Harbaugh said.
Linebacker Te’Von Coney had 10 tackles for the Irish along with the fumble recovery that sealed the game. Khalid Kareem added nine tackles including 2.5 for a loss. He also had two sacks. Julian Okwara had the interception for the Irish.
The Irish will welcome Ball State next week on Sept 8th.
The Wolverines host Western Michigan next week on Sept. 8th.