Monday, September 12, 2011
Notre Dame weekend rewind: Week 2
By Matt Fortuna
Much to the dismay of Notre Dame and its fans, the Fighting Irish will likely be forced to re-live Saturday's loss to Michigan for quite some time. Painful as it was, the defeat will no doubt make the highlight reels for the rest of the season.
Fortunately for the Irish, we'll only touch on a few points from this past weekend's 35-31 loss:
The Good: The Irish put up more than 500 yards of offense for the second straight week, giving them 1,021 yards on the season, the 10th-most among FBS teams.
The Bad: What's that about the offense? Despite its top-10 ranking in yards, the unit is tied for 69th in the nation in points scored. That, of course, comes back to turnovers. Eight of the Irish's nation-leading 10 giveaways have come on the offensive end, with the unit giving the ball away four times Saturday. The team also ranks dead last (120th) among FBS teams in turnover margin at minus-3.50.
The Ugly: The blame here shifts to the defense, which gave up 28 points in the fourth quarter, including two touchdowns in a 1-minute, 10-second span. Roy Roundtree's game-winner with two seconds left was the dagger, but Jeremy Gallon's 64-yard reception one play earlier was simply inexcusable.
Turning point: It's tough to pick just one, but Michigan's stop of Cierre Wood on third-and-1 from the Irish 29 with less than three minutes left gave the Wolverines new life after a Robert Blanton interception in the end zone. The Irish were 0-for-3 in the second half when faced with third down and less than 4 yards to go.
Call of the day: Brady Hoke would have been playing the odds had he settled for a field goal attempt and a chance for overtime with eight seconds left. Instead, he called one more play for Denard Robinson, and Shoelace delivered. The 16-yard touchdown pass to Roundtree with two seconds left capped another wild finish in this rivalry and another Michigan win in it.
Next up: Speaking of crazy finishes, the Irish now get set to host 15th-ranked and defending Big Ten co-champion Michigan State. The Spartans shocked Notre Dame in similar fashion to the Wolverines last year, running a fake field goal in overtime to clinch a 34-31 win. MSU is ranked third in the nation in scoring defense and fourth in overall defense, a situation that doesn't bode well for an Irish offense that can't seem to protect the ball for an extended period of time.