We are just one day away from the next chapter of the storied rivalry between the Michigan and Notre Dame football teams.
With the game approaching quick, I couldn’t help but think about all the great moments in this rivalry, especially all those sweet Wolverine victories. What better way to get ready for the renewed rivalry game than going through some of the top wins against the Irish?
I couldn’t actually put them in order because of how great they all are, but here are my top five Michigan wins against Notre Dame.
1997: No. 6 Michigan fends of the Irish after three huge defensive stands
The Wolverines trailed at halftime 14-7, but made a quick comeback with Brian Griese under center and took the lead late in the third quarter after two successful drives. The Wolverines entered the fourth quarter with a 21-14 lead.
However, the Fighting Irish’s defense stiffened and forced three fourth quarter turnovers, giving their offense the ball in Michigan territory in all three instances. Here is what happened after all three of those Wolverine turnovers.
The first led to a goal-line stand for the Wolverines and an interception in the end zone by defensive back Tommy Hendricks.
After a Michigan fumble on the ensuing drive, Notre Dame took over on Michigan’s 43 yard line. The Wolverine defense stood tall and didn’t even allow a first down on the drive. The Fighting Irish were forced to punt with about seven minutes left in the game.
On the next Wolverine drive, Griese botched a handoff and the ball propelled past the O-line right into the hands of the Fighting Irish defense at Michigan’s 28 yard line. Again, the Wolverines halted any sort of movement from the Notre Dame offense and refused to allow a first down. Notre Dame turned it over on downs and failed to score against the Michigan defense for a third time with the Wolverines on their heels.
1986: No. 3 Wolverines escape with a 24-23 victory after a missed ND field goal
This was probably the wildest of all of the games played in the series. There was honestly no way the Wolverines should have escaped with a victory in this one. The Fighting Irish never punted, and accrued 455 total yards of offense against the Michigan defense. However, the defense forced some late turnovers to give Jim Harbaugh and Michigan a fighting chance.
2009: Michigan defeats No. 18 Notre Dame 38-34 after late TD by Tate Forcier
There is much to forget about the 2009 Michigan Wolverines after a horrific 5-7 season, but this game is one that shouldn’t be forgotten.
This is the highest-scoring game in the history of the rivalry. About everything that could happen in a football game happened in this game, there was a kick return for a touchdown, and even a pooch punt to the 1 yard line by Forcier. The Wolverines had the final drive of the game, and Forcier threw a touchdown to Greg Matthews with 16 seconds left to give Michigan the victory.
2010: Denard Robinson’s huge day gives Michigan a 28-24 victory
For the second year in a row, Michigan scored a late touchdown to clinch a win over the hated Fighting Irish (spoiler, it happens again in 2011).
The Wolverines tried everything to lose this game. After going up 21-7 at halftime, the Irish fought back and took a late lead after scoring three unanswered touchdowns, including a 95-yard score by (now-Vikings) tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Denard Robinson began the Wolverines final drive with about three and a half minutes left. The Michigan offense moved the ball methodically down the field, and Robinson ran the ball in with just 16 seconds remaining.
Robinson finished the day with 502 total yards — a school record that still stands today. This may have been the greatest performance a Wolverine has ever had on the field as he threw for 244 yards and ran for 258. He also became the ninth quarterback in NCAA history to record more than 200 passing and 200 rushing yards in a single game.
2011: The Big House’s first night game, and what a night it was
Not only was this the most recent of the big time victories for he Wolverines over the Fighting Irish, but it is arguably the most impressive.
Michigan looked awful in the first half, and trailed Notre Dame 24-7 entering the fourth quarter. However, the Denard Robinson-led Wolverines stormed back in the final quarter, scoring 28 points.
The final 1:41 of this game is a perfect representation of this rivalry. Both sides continue to keep fighting against adversity.
The Wolverines took a 28-24 lead with 1:13 left in the game on a 25-yard screen pass. But the Notre Dame offense responded immediately with a 29-yard touchdown pass of its own with just 30 seconds remaining in the game.
The Notre Dame defense left Jeremy Gallon wide open for a 65-yard gain, leaving Michigan in the red zone with eight seconds left. The next play was a pass to Roy Roundtree in the right corner of the end zone to give the Wolverines the victory with just two seconds left.
For the third season in a row, the Wolverines would top the Fighting Irish in a heroic late game fashion. Fun fact: this game also included the ugliest uniforms Michigan has ever worn.
Honorable Mention (or ya know just for more fun):
1994: No. 6 Michigan defeats No. 3 Notre Dame on last second field goal
Sophomore kicker Remy Hamilton hit a 42-yarder to catapult the Wolverines to an upset victory over a highly-ranked Notre Dame team (his fourth field goal of the game). The final score was 26-24 Michigan.
Check out this video of the final drive:
Thank God this rivalry is renewed, because it really has been a fun one. Here is hoping we have another game to add on to the list of the top games Michigan has won against Notre Dame.
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