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 Haskins, Zach 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.