Javon McKinley

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No. 8 Notre Dame sees title hopes end in ugly loss to No. 19 Michigan


If you’re going to lose a shot at the national title in the month of October, there may not be a worse way to do it than the way No. 8 Notre Dame did on Saturday night. Playing on national TV in the Big House of one of their historic rivals, the Irish were crushed by the drip, drip, drip of a Wolverine running game they absolutely could not stop — and all of it happened in the pouring rain.

On a night where the elements prevented either team from throwing the ball, No. 19 Michigan out-rushed Notre Dame 303-47 en route to a 45-14 thumping of the Irish.

Shea Patterson finished the game 6-of-12 for 100 yards and two touchdowns and he was, by far, the more effective of the two quarterbacks. Notre Dame’s Ian Book hit just eight of his 25 passes for 73 yards and Notre Dame’s only score.

While neither team could throw the ball, only one of them ran it. Hassan Haskins chugged for a game-high 149 yards on 20 carries, while Zach Charbonnet rushed 15 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns, and Tru Wilson rushed five times for 41 yards and a score. Notre Dame, meanwhile, ran for only 47 yards on 31 carries.

The loss effectively ends any hope Notre Dame (5-2) had of reaching back-to-back College Football Playoffs, while Michigan (6-2) continued the signs of life it showed in the second half of last week’s loss to Penn State.

Michigan out-gained Notre Dame 437-180, with 75 of Notre Dame’s yards coming when the Irish trailed by 38 points.

On a night when everything went the maize and blue’s way, one of the key plays turned out to be a blocked Michigan punt which ended in Michigan’s favor. In a scoreless game early in the first quarter, Will Hall‘s punt was blocked just in front of his own end zone, but the Irish mistakenly touched the ball, allowing Michigan’s Daxton Hill to hop on the ball at the Michigan 35-yard line, giving the Wolverines new life. The Wolverines marched all the way to Notre Dame’s 2 and settled for a 21-yard Jake Moody field goal.

After a Notre Dame punt, Michigan put together two straight touchdown drives all of them on the ground. Over 15 straight runs, covering 119 yards, Hassan HaskinsZach Charbonnet and Patterson ran over around and through the Irish to take total control of the game.

Trailing 17-0 at the half, Notre Dame briefly climbed back in the game with a 7-yard pass from Book to Cole Kmet at the 5:27 mark of the third quarter, a drive greatly aided by the referees, who turned this interception into a pass interference against Michigan.

That momentum was short lived as Michigan, now able to throw the ball after a driving rain finally stopped, immediately moved 75 yards in six plays, capped by an 8-yard pass from Patterson to Donovan Peoples-Jones.

Patterson put the game away for good with a 16-yard strike to Nico Collins at the 11:29 mark of the fourth quarter, giving Michigan a 31-7 lead. The Wolverines added two more scores, coming on a 27-yard Wilson run and a 26-yard toss from Dylan McCaffrey to Mike Sainristil.

Notre Dame added a 14-yard touchdown by Javon McKinley from Phil Jurkovec, which did nothing to help the Irish win the game but did avoid matching the largest margin of defeat in the 45-game history of this series. Michigan’s 38-0 win over the Irish in 2003 still holds that mark.

This on-again, off-again series will go back to off, as the teams will not play again until a home-and-home in 2033-34, meaning Saturday’s win will give Michigan 14 years’ worth of scoreboard.

Notre Dame safety Devin Studstill enters transfer database

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It’s been a rather eventful last couple of days personnel-wise in South Bend.

Friday, Notre Dame confirmed that wide receiver Javon McKinley, arrested in mid-February after allegedly punching two cops, has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.  This weekend, head coach Brian Kelly acknowledged that safety Devin Studstill has decided to transfer from the Fighting Irish and continue his collegiate playing career at an undetermined elsewhere.

Kelly gave no specific reason for the parting of ways.

Studstill is on schedule to graduate from the university this spring, which means, of course, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS program in 2019.

After starting nine of the 12 games in which he played as a true freshman in 2016, Studstill played in 11 games in 2017 and just five this past season.  The nine starts his first year with the Fighting Irish were the only ones of his career.

Notre Dame WR accused of punching cops indefinitely suspended

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Given what he’s accused of doing, the punishment meted out makes absolute sense.

In mid-February, Javon McKinley was originally arrested on two counts of battery resulting in bodily injury to public safety official while engaged in official duties and one count of resisting law enforcement.  The charges stemmed from an incident in which it’s alleged that an intoxicated McKinley, who was found unresponsive in the back of an Uber vehicle, punched a pair of police officers who were attempting to safely escort the wide receiver back to his dorm room.

As a result of the off-field incident, head coach Brian Kelly confirmed Friday that, not surprisingly, McKinley has been indefinitely suspended from the Fighting Irish football program.

Kelly’s confirmation comes a day after McKinley made his first court appearance in connection to the incident.

Thursday, McKinley was officially arraigned on two misdemeanor counts of battery resulting in bodily injury and one count of illegal consumption of alcohol.  According to the South Bend Tribune, a new hearing has been scheduled for April 15, two days after the spring game is played.

The Irish will kick off their 10th spring practice under Kelly Saturday, March 2.

A four-star member of Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class, McKinley was rated as the No. 18 receiver in the country and the No. 16 player at any position in the state of California.  Only two 2016 Fighting Irish signees, both offensive tackles, were rated higher than McKinley in that year’s class.

McKinley played in six games as a true freshman and four in 2018, with missing the entire 2017 season because of injury sandwiched in between.