SOUTH BEND, IN (Toledo News Now) - Michigan fans could have a bad taste in their mouths for a while after Notre Dame dominated the Wolverines in what may have been the last meeting between the rivals. Notre Dame and Michigan are not scheduled to square off on the football field again.
The Irish offense sputtered on its first possession, burning two timeouts in just the first few minutes of the game.
Michigan forced a punt and took over on their own 25-yard-line.
Michigan Quarterback Devin Gardner briefly lit up the Irish secondary with passes to Funchess, Kerridge and Norfleet before the drive stalled at the Notre Dame 29 yard line and Matt Wile pushed a field goal wide right. It was the closest Michigan would get to the Notre Dame end zone all day.
Notre Dame Quarterback Everett Golson played well on the ensuing Irish possession, completing a couple of 10+ yard passes. It was two pass interference penalties on Michigan's Jourdan Lewis, one in the end zone, which really hurt the Wolverines. Senior caption Cam McDaniel punched in a 1 yard TD run after the second penalty. The Irish took the lead 7-0 and stepped on the gas.
From that point forward, it was clear Notre Dame coaches thought they had an advantage over the Michigan secondary. That miss-match became apparent to everyone else in the stadium as Golson racked up 226 yards and 3 touchdowns in the air.
Golson put up an impressive stat line, but the story of the day for the Irish was on the other side of the ball.
If the performance against Michigan is any indication, first year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder seems to have accomplished what previous coordinators could not.
Even the great Irish offense of 2012, led by All-American Manti Teo, didn't look as fundamentally sound as the Irish unit on the field Saturday. In press, defensive backs sniffed out wide receiver screens for a loss or small gain on several occasions. Defensive backs wrapped up on open field tackles better than any defense in recent memory.
The Irish defensive line shut down any attempt to run, forcing Gardner and Michigan to the air early.
Three different Notre Dame defensive backs picked Gardner off on Saturday, with a fourth intersection called back because of a roughing the passer penalty on what would have been the final play of the game.
The Wolverines will look to bounce back next week when Miami of Ohio comes to the Big House. Notre Dame will travel to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to take on Purdue.