Notre Dame seniors owe-for-3 against Michigan
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org September 21, 2012 10:14PM
Irish tailback Theo Riddick says the Michigan game is a big deal because the senior class hasn’t beaten the Wolverines. | Gregory Shamus~Getty Images
NO. 18 MICH. AT
NO. 11 NOTRE DAME
The facts: 6:30, Ch. 5, 890-AM.
Updated: October 23, 2012 6:09AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame’s schedule is littered with storied rivalries — historic matchups that date back decades and wake up the echoes and the ratings and the hairs on the necks of longtime fans across the country.
But history is often lost on 18- to 23-year-olds, kids who weren’t even born the last time Notre Dame won a national championship. Recent memory resonates with them a lot more than distant past.
So, yes, the Navy game is great. Purdue, USC and Stanford, too. But Michigan matters to these guys. Maybe more than any other game.
“All I know is the senior class is 0-3 against them,” ND tailback Theo Riddick said. “So it’s a big deal.”
The manner in which the Wolverines have won those three games makes the game all the more meaningful for the Irish. In 2009, Tate Forcier’s touchdown pass with 11 seconds left gave unranked Michigan a 38-34 win over No. 18 Notre Dame. In 2010, Michigan’s Denard Robinson capped off a 502-yard day (passing and rushing) and a 28-24 win with a game-winning touchdown plunge with 27 seconds left.
And last year, Robinson did it again, racking up 446 yards of Michigan’s 452 yards of offense and capping a 28-point fourth quarter with the game-winning touchdown pass with two seconds left.
“You always hate to lose, especially in some of those games,” ND safety Zeke Motta said. “[Last year] sticks out most in my mind. I haven’t beaten Michigan yet, so this is something that’s pretty important to me.”
It’ll be Notre Dame’s last crack at Robinson, who has owned the Irish like perhaps no player in history. But never has an Irish team been as well-equipped to contain Robinson — the front seven came into its own in last week’s 20-3 win at Michigan State, holding Le’Veon Bell and the Spartans to 83 rushing yards. That should take some of the pressure off an injury-ravaged and inexperienced secondary.
And the Irish have a successful blueprint in last year’s game film — as long as they stop the tape before the fourth quarter. Robinson was only 4-for-14 passing after three quarters, but he threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth.
“I thought we did a pretty good job, really, for three quarters,” ND coach Brian Kelly said. “I think there’s a couple of plays we’d like to have back in the passing game, maybe. But we liked our plan. We think we’re physically a better football team than we were the previous couple of years.’’