Michigan Football's Greatest Comebacks Countdown: 8. Notre Dame (2011)

Michigan Football's Greatest Comebacks Countdown: 8. Notre Dame (2011)

Football

Michigan Football's Greatest Comebacks Countdown: 8. Notre Dame (2011)


Our comeback series continues, with the Michigan – Notre Dame rivalry taking center stage, once again.


Michigan Football’s Greatest Comebacks Countdown: 8. Notre Dame (2011)

About as thrilling a game as you could see, and fit for The Big House’s first night game.

Starting a new series featuring Michigan’s greatest comebacks in the last 30 years. Our most recent entry is a relatively recent game: the third consecutive, and most dramatic, comeback victory the Wolverines had over Notre Dame within the last decade.

8. Michigan vs. Notre Dame (2011)

  • Final score: Michigan 35 – Notre Dame 31
  • 2011 record: 11-2 Finished: AP – 12th, Coaches – 9th (Sugar Bowl Champions)
  • Why it was important: Rivalry game, first Michigan Stadium night game

It was the first time that Michigan Stadium’s new permanently installed lights were put to use, and it was happening in new head coach Brady Hoke’s first season at the helm of the Wolverines. Both Michigan and Notre Dame wore old-school throwback uniforms, which heightened an already classic rivalry.

Michigan got the ball first, and went three-and-out. Notre Dame marched down the field and scored a TD with ease. Michigan got the ball back, went three-and-out. Notre Dame march down the field and scored a TD with ease. It looked like it was going to be a long night for the maize and blue.

However, early in the second quarter, Michigan S Jordan Kovacs intercepted a Tommy Rees pass, and the Wolverines capitalized, with Denard Robinson hitting Junior Hemingway deep down the sideline, and Hemingway dove for the pylon for a Michigan touchdown. 14-7, Notre Dame.

On the next drive, Notre Dame drove down the field, all the way to the Michigan 23 yard line, but Rees threw another interception, this time to J.T. Floyd, who saved Michigan from surrendering more points to the Fighting Irish.

It would be short-lived, however. Michigan couldn’t convert, and, already at midfield, Notre Dame didn’t need much to get into field goal range, and put the score to a 17-7 advantage, Irish, before the half.

With 6:08 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Notre Dame would be back to their old tricks, marching down the field with seeming ease. Behind the efforts of tailback Cierre Wood, the Irish would get to midfield, and quarterback Tommy Rees would take it from there, hitting T.J. Jones for a 15 yard score. Michigan was now down 24-7. It seemed like all was lost for the Wolverines.

However, in the previous two years, Michigan had mounted comebacks against their non-conference foes, could they do it again?

On the first play of the 4th quarter, Michigan had the ball deep, all the way on the goal line after a 3rd quarter strike from Robinson to Hemingway. Robinson handed off to fullback Stephen Hopkins, who promptly fumbled the ball — which bounced right back into the arms of Denard Robinson, who marched in for the score. Michigan cut it to 10.

A fumble on the kick return kept ND deep in Michigan territory, and the Wolverines defense held strong, getting the ball back, forcing a three-and-out. Michigan would get the ball back at midfield, and after a 15 yard connection to fullback John McCoulgan, Robinson dropped back, pump faked, and hit Jeremy Gallon on a fade route in the endzone. Michigan now down three, 24-21.

Notre Dame, again, did what it did best — drive with ease — getting all the way down to the Michigan 9 yard line. However, yet another error by the Fighting Irish, this time an inexplicable fumble by quarterback Tommy Rees, which was recovered promptly by Michigan at the 10 yard line.

Michigan got the ball back with 6:08 left, but Denard Robinson threw a costly interception 1:45 later. Notre Dame did nothing with it (save for chewing up clock) so the Wolverines had another chance. With 2:16 left, Robinson led another drive from midfield, hitting slot receiver Kelvin Grady for 27 yards before a nifty throwback screen to Vincent Smith leads to a Michigan touchdown.

The Wolverines had their first lead of the game, but was there too much time left?

Indeed, there was. ND got the ball back with 1:12, and Rees was surgical, connecting with TE Tyler Eifert, before ultimately hitting Theo Riddick for 29 yards with 30 seconds remaining, breaking everyone’s hearts as Notre Dame went back up 31-28.

But even that was too much time remaining.

On the very next play, Notre Dame decided not to cover slot receiver Jeremy Gallon, who caught the ball on a deep wheel route down the right sideline before reversing field for a 64 yard gain.

The rest will be remembered forever.

Robinson dropped back on the next play, “Lobs it up, one-on-one — caught!” by receiver Roy Roundtree, as called by ESPN play-by-play announcer Brent Musberger, for a touchdown in the right corner of the endzone, on a beautifully executed fade route, in such tight coverage that there was pass interference called on the Irish.

The subsequent kickoff with no time remaining would be fumbled by Notre Dame with a Michigan recovery, ensuring one of the great comebacks in maize and blue history.

Leaders in Blue

Passing

Denard Robinson – 11/24, 338 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT

Rushing

Denard Robinson – 16 carries, 108 yards, 1 TD

Receiving

Junior Hemingway – 3 rec., 165 yards, 1 TD

Jeremy Gallon – 2 rec., 68 yards, 1 TD

Vincent Smith – 2 rec., 26 yards, 1 TD

Roy Roundtree – 1 rec., 16 yards, 1 TD

Defense

Kenny Demens – 12 tackles

Jordan Kovacs – 8 tackles, 1 INT

J.T. Floyd – 6 tackles, INT

Ryan Van Bergen – 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR

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