Notre Dame Week 4 Recap: Beat Michigan, finally defeat Denard Robinson

#18 Michigan at #11 Notre Dame.  Irish win 13-6.

Notre Dame is now 4-0 for the first time since 2002 (Ty Willingham’s first season).

All of the leis in the stands seen during the game were because ND handed out 7,500 at the pep rally on Friday night to show their support for linebacker Manti Te’o.  Te’o lost his grandmother and his girlfriend the previous week and chose to stay with his team rather than return to Hawaii to mourn with his family.  He will go back this week during the fall break.

Offense has been getting byOnce again, Tommy Rees had to come in to relieve Everett Golson.  He did the same thing two weeks ago against Purdue and led the game-winning drive.  However, this time it wasn’t because of injury, but rather the way the Wolverine defense was getting after Golson, that led to head coach Brian Kelly deciding to make the switch. Rees completed 8-11 passes for 115 yards.  When asked why he made the switch after the game, Kelly said thatthe Irish needed to play consistent in the 2nd half and take care of the football.  He added that Michigan had been giving a lot of looks to Everett.  And he did address the question even before it could be asked that Notre Dame is still committed to Everett, “Everett’s our guy, but Tommy’s there in a pinch to come in and help us win.”

The big difference in this year’s game against Michigan: Notre Dame held Denard Robinson to 138 yards passing.  In 2011 Robinson passed for 200 more yards (338 yards) and in 2010 he had a combined 500 yards in total offense (passing and rushing for about 250 yards each).  Furthermore, Michigan didn’t score a single touchdown in this year’s game.  As a result, statisically Michigan fell from 33rd in the country in scoring offense to 63rd.

Another huge factor in this game was turnovers.  There were 7 interceptions thrown in the game, all in the first half (5 by Michigan, including 4 by Robinson and 2 by ND’s Golson).  And the only points scored in the first half were 10 by ND off of turnovers.  Michigan tried to score 3 of their own off of turnovers, but missed the 42 yards field goal attempt.

Notre Dame’s scoring defense, sacks and turnover margin (the stat that doomed the Irish last year) are all ranked in the top 10 in the nation.  But total offense is only ranked 96th.