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This Wolverines Gameday in History Seeks Win #2

In five games on Sept. 12 since forming a football team in 1879, Michigan has only one victory. The Wolverines will be seeking win #2 on this gameday in history against Oregon State on Saturday.

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Well, this is not a fun gameday in history to relive, thanks in large part to the leprechauns over in South Bend. Bo lost both games he coached on Sept. 12: first against Wisconsin, then Notre Dame. Moeller and Co. switched things up with a tie at Notre Dame in '92, before Carr followed up with another loss to the Fighting Irish in '98. Luckily, Rich Rod and Tate Forcier were in Ann Arbor in '09 to help a crappy Michigan squad beat a crappy Notre Dame squad on a last second touchdown. If not for that, this piece may have been too ominous to write.

Greatest Victory: 38-34 over Notre Dame in 2009

No surprise here. The Michigan Wolverines and Notre Fighting Irish trade blows in the first two quarters: Michigan jumps out to a 14-3 lead in the first frame behind a Brandon Minor rushing touchdown and a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Darryl Stonum - the most recent kickoff return for a touchdown by a Wolverine. Notre Dame responds in the second quarter with a couple of scores through the air via Jimmy Clausen. Coming out in the second half, Michigan takes charge by scoring 17 unanswered points that included two touchdowns - both thanks to Tate Forcier, a 3-yard pass to Kevin Koger and a 31-yard run. With almost the entire fourth quarter left to play, the Wolverines just have to hold on.

But this is Michigan-Notre Dame we're talking about, and no victory has come easy since 2009, save for last year. After the Wolverines increased their lead to 31-20, the Fighting Irish storm back with an 80-yard drive capped by a 21-yard pass from Clausen to wideout Golden Tate. Being down five points after the touchdown, Notre Dame goes for two, fails, and Michigan has an opportunity to run some clock off. But on the fifth play of the ensuing drive, Forcier throws an interception that the Irish return to Michigan's 36-yard line. Seven plays later, Notre Dame crosses the goal line, and this time, they convert their two-point conversion, putting them up 34-31 with a little over five minutes remaining. At this point, Michigan needs to do something and do it fast. Instead, they drive nine yards on five plays and waste 2:06 off the clock before punting the ball back to Notre Dame. The game is over.

Or is it? The fact that Charlie Weis coached Notre Dame for five years is still hilarious to me. And what the Irish do on their next drive shows why. After receiving the punt, the Irish run for a first down on their first play. Great for them. They drain the clock a bit and run again, this time for no gain. Michigan calls their first timeout. If I'm doing the math correctly based on the ESPN play-by-play, at this point, there should be a little over two and half minutes remaining. Michigan has two time outs, and Notre Dame can erase them with runs on second and third down. Granted, timeouts aren't as important in college football as they are in the pros, but why give Michigan any advantage? Their offense has been stagnant since the beginning of the fourth quarter, so it seems reasonable enough that if two more rushes didn't net a first down, the Irish defense could stand tall. At the very least, run on second down, see how much you gain, and then decide whether a pass and potential clock-stopping incompletion is worth it.

Well, Weis decides to go for the victory starting on second down, and Clausen fails to fulfill his wish with back-to-back incompletions. With the ball back and a little over two minutes remaining, Forcier picks apart the Irish defense en route to a 58-yard, game-winning drive sealed by a 5-yard touchdown pass to Greg Mathews.

Worst Defeat Tie: 17-17 at Notre Dame in 1992

A hockey coach/mentor instilled in me at a young age that 'A tie is like kissing your sister.' I hate ties. I hate that college football games used to end in ties. I hate that NHL games used to end in ties. I hate that NFL games could still end in a tie. Hey NFL, get with it, it's 2015. We're going to be living on Mars in a few years, and you'll still have games ending in a tie. If your average tie is like kissing your sister, then a tie against Notre Dame is like kissing a rabid dog or the rotting carcass of a deer on the side of I-75.

Game Most Likely to be Repeated against the Beavers:

Uh...hopefully the Notre Dame game where we won.

Game We Want to see Repeated against the Beavers:

Uh...definitely the Notre Game where we won.

BONUS FACT:

Mlive did a little post on "A historical look at Michigan's fate after 0-1 starts." TL;DR Michigan, historically, does okay after going 0-1, but it's become a habit to start the season with a loss in recent years (5-4 since '07). Beyond that, I took a quick look at seasons where Michigan starts on the road and then holds the home opener the next week. Excluding the neutral-site Alabama game in '12, there are only four occurrences in Michigan football history: twice in the '80s and twice in the '90s. In the four home openers after losing on the road the start the season, the Wolverines hold a 2-2 record, winning in '81 and '90 and losing in '88 and '98. Harbaugh and the Wolverines will look to make that a winning record on Saturday.


So that's it for Michigan's history on Sept. 12. Here's to Harbaugh winning his first home opener! Go Blue!

Overall Record on Sept. 12

1-3-1

Game Scores

1981 at Wisconsin, 14-21

1987 vs. Notre Dame, 7-26

1992 at Notre Dame, 17-17

1998 at Notre Dame, 20-36

2009 vs. Notre Dame, 38-34