Notre Dame-UM: Numbers & Analysis

By The Numbers
1-7
Notre Dame’s record in its last eight trips to Michigan Stadium, dating back to 1997. It ends the series on the road with a four-game losing streak in The Big House. Third-year head coach Brady Hoke’s home record with the Wolverines improved to 16-0.

Junior tight end Troy Niklas was a bright spot with six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Wolverines.

2 Septembers of the 20 since 1994 where Notre Dame came out of the month unscathed with a defeat. One was in 2002 during an 8-0 start, and the second was last season while allowing only 36 points in the four September games. It surrendered 41 alone this year against Michigan.

3 Touchdown receptions by Michigan wideout Jeremy Gallon, making him only the fifth player in history to snare three scoring passes against the Irish. The others were USC’s Dwayne Jarrett (2006), Michigan’s Mario Manningham (2006), Texas’ Pat Fitzgerald (1995) and LSU’s Andy Hamilton (1971).

7-3 Michigan’s record against Notre Dame since 1978 in games that were decided by double digits. Four of those victories have come over the last 11 seasons: 2003 (38-0), 2006 (47-21), 2007 (38-0) and now 2013 (41-30).

11 Steve Elmer became the 11th Notre Dame freshman out of 23 on scholarship to play this season. He appeared at left guard for a play when fifth-year senior Chris Watt lost his helmet on a play. Elmer appears to be the top backup at both guard slots and both tackle positions.

14-15-1 Notre Dame’s record against Michigan since the series renewal in 1978. With the final game of the series, in the foreseeable future, next year at Notre Dame Stadium, the Fighting Irish will have an opportunity to break dead even during that time.

53 Pass attempts by Notre Dame, 51 of them by Tommy Rees. Notre Dame is 1-3 under head coach Brian Kelly when attempting at least 50 passes, with the victory occurring in triple overtime last year against Pitt. The other two losses were in 2010 to Michigan State and Tulsa. The Irish also threw 49 passes in a 23-20 opening-game loss to South Florida in 2011.

61 Yards on Jeremy Gallon’s first quarter touchdown pass from Devin Gardner in which several Irish defenders had a shot at him. That was the longest pass completion against the Irish since the Michigan game in 2011 — when Gallon caught a 64-yard pass that set up the game-winning touchdown on the next play with two seconds left.

76 Yards receiving by junior Troy Niklas on his six receptions, highlighted by a 19-yard touchdown. Tight End U. remains in business. The 6-6, 270-pound Niklas is yet another blooming big-time prospect there for the Irish with his combination of physical play, soft hands and underrated mobility.

98/21 Michigan referred to it as “Legend to Legend” when quarterback Devin Gardner wore No. 98 and receiver Jeremy Gallon No. 21. The 98 represented Michigan 1940 Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon while 21 represented 1991 Heisman recipient Desmond Howard. The modern duo connected eight times for 184 yards and three touchdowns.

115,109 Announced attendance for the game, setting a new NCAA record once again. Two years ago the attendance at Michigan for the Notre Dame game was 114,804.

Turning Point
Notre Dame had scored 10 straight points to cut its deficit to 34-30 when Michigan took possession at its 25 with 9:15 remaining. On second-and-10 running back Fitzgerald Toussaint cut back when it appeared he was trapped for a minimal gain and turned it into a 22-yard gain. Two plays later he raced 31 yards on a screen because of a blown coverage in the flank.

Yet the real devastation occurred on third-and-12 from the Irish 27, when Irish senior cornerback Bennett Jackson stepped in front of a Gardner pass around the 12. He was whistled for pass interference, a debatable infraction when shown on replay because he and the receiver were both going for the ball. Then on third-and-5 from the nine, junior safety Matthias Farley was whistled for pass interference in the end zone on tight end Devin Funchess. Two plays later and with 4:18 remaining, Gardner found slot Drew Dileo in the end zone for the 41-30 lead that would hold up as the final score.

Stat Of The Game
Senior quarterback Devin Gardner didn’t quite amass the monster numbers of predecessor Denard Robinson in victories against Notre Dame in 2010 and 2011. Robinson had 502 yards total offense in 2010 (258 rushing, 244 passing) and 446 in 2011 (338 passing and 108 rushing).

However, Gardner still controlled the game with his arm (21-of-33, 294 yards, four touchdowns) and his legs (13 carries, 82 yards) for 376 yards total offense.

Gardner’s performance probably better resembled Wolverine freshman quarterback Tate Forcier’s in the 38-34 victory over Notre Dame in 2009, when he completed 23-of-33 for 240 yards and rushed 13 times for 70 yards. Gardner was especially masterful at getting rid of the ball right when it seemed he was on the verge of getting sacked, or extending the play while making Irish defenders repeatedly miss.

Brian Kelly’s Early Review
Here were the Irish head coach’s quick comments to the IMG Notre Dame Network right after the game.

“We had a couple of opportunities in the red zone that we didn’t capitalize on that could have obviously made this a different ball game at the end. Everyone’s going to look at 41 points [by Michigan], but we very easily could have had two more touchdowns offensively and put up 44 points.

“There are a lot of things we’ve got to do better. We got sloppy with penalties down the stretch that we have to clean up. We gave up too many opportunities late in the game where they were able to get the big touchdown late. We’ve got to bounce back from it. From our standpoint, Michigan was the better team today and we’ve got to go back and play more disciplined football on both sides. We do that, we have a chance to be a good team.”

Unsung Efforts
Special Teams — Junior Kyle Brindza did stellar work in triple duty. He converted all three of his field goals, two of them from 44 and 40 yards, had four touchbacks on kickoffs and averaged 40 yards on his two punts, with one almost resulting in a lost fumble by Michigan.

Offense: Amir Carlisle — He quietly might be working into the lead back role. His 12 carries for 65 yards don’t necessarily jump off the stat sheet, but despite a lack of great size, he hits the hole between the tackles with much authority and fearlessness. With continued health, he can be a Theo Riddick-type player down the road with a little more explosiveness.

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