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Michigan Defeats Notre Dame: QB Denard Robinson Leads Wolverines To Unbelievable Comeback Over Irish

Michigan celebrates a shocking win over Notre Dame. (AP photo)
It wasn’t the greatest game ever. But if there ever was a better fourth quarter played, I’d love to watch it. Michigan pulled off the most unbelievable comeback in as far back as I can remember, beating Notre Dame 35-31 at the Big House Saturday night.

It was anything but a college football clinic in how to play defense, but the way this game swung back and forth and forth and back, I don’t believe anything could compare. Big plays were everywhere on offense. Michigan and Notre Dame both thought they had pulled out a victory in miraculous fashion – in the final 30 seconds mind you.

There were three touchdowns scored in the final 1:12, with lead changes attached to each of them. Michigan, which trailed at the start of the period 24-7, came all the way back to take a 28-24 lead with 1:12 to play after quarterback Denard Robinson threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Smith.

Michigan Stadium rocked under the lights for the first time in the school’s long history. But Notre Dame didn’t go down quietly and put what was believed to be the final nail in the coffin of an amazing Michigan comeback. Quarterback Tommy Rees drove the Irish downfield in no time before hitting a wide-open Theo Riddick for a 29-yard score to take a 31-28 lead with 30 seconds to play.

The Wolverines crowd that was so hyped just seconds earlier was stunned into silence … that is if they weren’t screaming at the defense instead. In either scenario there was no way a Michigan supporter could have truly believed their team would win.

Michigan took over at its own 20 after a touchback on the kickoff. Coach Brady Hoke sent his offense on the field with three plays and probably a huge, silent prayer that his team could possibly go 80 yards in 30 seconds.

Of course, when you have Robinson on your side, maybe he didn’t feel the need to pray at all. After an incompletion, Robinson bought time against a Notre Dame rush on second down and found an open Jeremy Gallon 30 or so yards down the field. Gallon caught the ball on the run and ran for another 30 after the catch – 64 yards in all – to put the Wolverines at the Notre Dame 16 with eight seconds to play.

In field goal range, it looked for a moment as if Michigan would call a run to move the ball to the center of the field to set up an easier kick attempt. But Robinson instead dropped back and lofted a pass into the corner of the end zone. There, Roy Roundtree went up and caught the ball despite drawing defensive pass interference. 

After replay, the touchdown was confirmed and Michigan had the game won with just two seconds showing on the scoreboard clock.

Those 30 seconds Michigan was left with? The Wolverines needed just 28.

“We worked on those three plays all summer,” Robinson said about that final drive after the game. “I always wondered why we did it. It helped us tonight.”

Robinson proved he is the most exciting player in college football today. Say what you will about his ability to play the position, but he and only he makes that comeback possible. Andrew Luck? As good as he is, and he will be the top pick in the NFL draft next year, he would have had no shot to pull this off.

Robinson completed 11 passes in the game for 338 yards. Yes, 11 for 338. He added another 108 yards rushing. He had five touchdowns, four passing and one rushing. If Robinson plays anything close to how he played in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame he’ll run away with the Heisman Trophy.

But that’s getting ahead of everything that will happen this college football season. Robinson is far from the perfect player and Michigan is far from the perfect team. The defense is still porous, sometimes downright pathetic. The offense finally awoke in the fourth quarter (how scary is that?), but was anything but stellar in the first three.

On this night, however, it’s not about all that. This is a night to remember. Playing on the national stage in a historic setting, Michigan and Notre Dame came up with a thrilling game that beat the ultimate hype already attached to the matchup. Anytime that happens, you know it was something special.

Just a little more special if you’re a Michigan supporter.

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