Notre Dame Football: Desmond Howard

The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry dates back to 1887 when the Wolverines instructed the Irish in the rules and ways of the game. Today, it’s still one of the most well-known and respected matchups in the country. But on Saturday, the two teams will meet for the last time (for the foreseeable future) in Michigan Stadium. To commemorate this event, we’ve counted down the top five games in the rivalry’s history in the Big House.

5. 2009 | Michigan 38, No. 18 Notre Dame 34

Enter Tate Forcier. His career at Michigan was short-lived, but as a freshman he led one of the greatest come-from-behind drives against Notre Dame in Michigan Stadium. With Notre Dame forced to punt, Forcier and the Wolverines got the ball back with 2:13 left in the game, down three. The freshman led Michigan down the field and capped the drive with a 5-yard TD pass with 11 seconds left in the game. The ensuing PAT sealed the victory for Michigan.

4. 1981 | No. 11 Michigan 25, No. 1 Notre Dame 7

The Wolverines had started the season No. 1 in the country, but Wisconsin wiped the floor with them. With Notre Dame’s season-opening win over LSU, the Irish came into the Big House ranked No. 1 in the nation, while the Wolverines had dropped to No. 11. But behind clutch defensive performances, which held the Irish without a second- or third-quarter first down, Michigan rolled.

3. 2011 | Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31

If we were counting down the top moments of the rivalry, this would arguably be No. 1. And there are 114,804 people to testify to that. However, as far as the game as a whole, this one was basically a snoozer until the final moments. Everyone remembers Roy Roundtree’s game-winning catch from Denard Robinson with two seconds left. Or they remember the catch, one play earlier, by Jeremy Gallon. Those kinds of memories erase the fact that the Wolverines went into the fourth quarter down 24-7. But that final quarter -- with all the emotion and anticipating -- gets the 2011 game on the top-five list.

2. 1989 | No. 1 Notre Dame 24, No. 2 Michigan 19

Bo Schembechler's final game in this series was not a memorable one for the Wolverines, who saw Raghib Ismail return two kickoffs for touchdowns. It was the defending national champions, the No. 1-ranked Irish against No. 2 Michigan, with Irish quarterback Tony Rice attempting just two passes in the wet conditions. The Wolverines saw a 10-game unbeaten streak snapped, and the Irish became the first team to beat Schembechler three straight times.

1. 1991 | No. 2 Michigan 24, Notre Dame 14

Up three early in the fourth quarter, Desmond Howard made the first of many memorable plays in what would become a Heisman Trophy-winning season. Howard caught a 25-yard pass from Elvis Grbac on fourth-and-1, a signature moment in this rivalry's history, known to Wolverine fans simply as “The Catch.” Michigan snapped a four-game losing streak to Notre Dame.

Video: Te'o barges in on Corso

December, 6, 2012
12/06/12
9:11
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After listening to Lee Corso tell Desmond Howard why he has no chance at winning the Heisman Trophy, Manti Te'o storms backstage to confront Corso.

Irish Lunch Links

June, 1, 2012
6/01/12
12:00
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Why are people questioning this?

A few more tidbits before kickoff

September, 10, 2011
9/10/11
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- An emotional few minutes early on in the Big House, as Michigan honored Desmond Howard by naming him the first player in program history to receive the designation of a "Michigan Football Legend."

Howard held back tears during a brief thank-you speech to fans. Minutes later, "God Bless America" played and the stadium scoreboards showed all of the Michigan alumni who passed in the Sept. 11 attacks 10 years ago.

Notre Dame won the toss and will kick. Get ready for some night football in Ann Arbor.

Week 2: Did you know?

September, 9, 2011
9/09/11
9:00
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Here are some notes on Notre Dame and Michigan before they take the field at the Big House this Saturday. As always, thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for many of these nuggets.
  • Both Notre Dame and Michigan enter this game unranked for the fourth time in the past five years. Before 2007, they never played each other when neither was ranked during the poll era (since 1936). Before then, the last time they played each other and neither was ranked was in 1909.
  • Notre Dame and Michigan rank second and first, respectively, in all-time winning percentage among FBS schools (Notre Dame .732, Michigan .735). They rank third and first in all-time wins among FBS schools (Notre Dame 845, Michigan 885).
  • Brian Kelly and Brady Hoke faced each other three times as head coaches in the MAC, with Kelly's Central Michigan teams going 3-0 against Hoke's Ball State teams from 2004-06.
  • Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison was a Notre Dame assistant from 1997-2004, serving as the Fighting Irish's defensive coordinator from 1997-2001 before becoming the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator from 2002-2004.
  • Though this will be Michigan Stadium's first night game, the Wolverines have played the Irish three other times under the lights, losing in South Bend, Ind., in 1982, 1988 and 1990.
  • Michigan is seeking its third straight win over Notre Dame. The Wolverines won the first eight series meetings from 1887-1908 but haven't won three straight against the Irish in the past 30 meetings.
  • Michigan has won five of the past six meetings with Notre Dame in Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Michigan has won its past 10 September games, while Notre Dame has lost its past four September games.
  • Michigan's defense has surrendered 211 plays of at least 10 yards since the start of 2010, the fourth-most of any FBS team during that stretch.
  • Denard Robinson's 58 runs of at least 10 yards is the most of any FBS player since the start of the 2010 season.
  • Robinson is 45 yards away from becoming the ninth player in Michigan history to amass 5,000 yards of total offense.
  • Since the start of 2010, Robinson has completed 63.3 percent of his passes inside the pocket for an average of 8.7 yards per pass. Outside the pocket, Robinson has hit 54.9 percent of his passes for 7.6 yards per pass.
  • Notre Dame quarterbacks were 2-for-2 passing to Michael Floyd in the red zone last week and just 2-for-6 when targeting anyone else.
  • In third down passing last week, Dayne Crist completed 1-of-5 throws for no first downs and tossed an interception. Tommy Rees, meanwhile, was 3-for-4 with three first downs.
  • Crist was 1-for-6 with an interception last week during throws of 6-14 yards. Rees was 10-of-10 with one touchdown and one pick.
  • Last week against South Florida, Floyd was the target of three of Crist's throws, catching two for 37 yards in the first half. Floyd was the target of 12 of Rees' throws, catching 10 for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
  • Among active FBS players, Floyd ranks sixth in receptions (183), third in receiving yards (2,693) and second in touchdown catches (30).
  • Notre Dame has allowed just five offensive touchdowns in its last six games.
  • ESPN's Desmond Howard, the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner, will be honored at halftime by Michigan and the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

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