Whether you’re part of the group that considers this game a legitimate rivalry or not, one thing you can’t deny is that the Michigan Wolverines and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have given us some classic contests throughout the years.
Saturday night was no different.
Led by a breakout performance from their quarterback, Devin Gardner, Michigan was able to hold off the Irish 41-30 in the spotlight game of the evening. Although an 11-point victory could be convincing to some, things almost fell out of the Wolverines’ favor.
Gardner did have a tremendous, career-defining night. He finished up with 294 yards on 21-of-33 passing. He also added four touchdown strikes with just one interception.
But, that interception was nearly a back-breaking one.
Early in the fourth quarter, as he was being chased heavily into his own end zone, Gardner made a costly decision to try and get an incomplete pass off rather than just eat the safety. As he got the ball out of his hands as best as he can, Notre Dame’s monstrous–yet athletic–defensive end Stephon Tuitt made an incredible catch, giving the Irish six points. It pulled Brian Kelly‘s squad to within a touchdown.
Later in the fourth, Gardner would find Drew Dileo in the end zone, putting the Irish to bed and ending any hopes of repeating an undefeated regular season.
As good as Gardner was in this game, though, it was actually the efforts of his no. 1 receiving target that stood out the most.
Jeremy Gallon was the one that grabbed most of the primetime spotlight Saturday night, and in a big way. Gallon grabbed eight balls for an astonishing 184 yards and three touchdowns. He ran very crisp routes and–on more than one occasion–had the awareness to break off his routes and come back to his quarterback for help when needed. People may have known about Gardner before the game started, but they definitely know who Gallon is after tonight.
This Michigan squad will certainly be an interesting one to watch as this season goes on. They looked very good at times, while also showing some tremendous vulnerability.
But, for tonight, there’s a record crowd of over 115,000 people that were packed into the Big House that are going to have themselves one heck of a party.