I’m still stunned at what just happened and the end of the game is one of the more confusing, frustrating, and inexplicable endings to a football game Notre Dame fans have seen since the 2005 Notre Dame-USC game.
Let’s find some semblance of balance and figure out the five things that we learned:
1) Notre Dame needs to figure out how to stop the run.
The run defense for the Irish let them down. 191 yards rushing, including 107 from Brandon Minor and 70 from quarterback Tate Forcier. Jon Tenuta’s pressure defense couldn’t figure out a way to stop the Wolverines running game, and in the end, while the running game isn’t what we’ll remember, the five yards a carry that Michigan averaged is one of the biggest reasons why Michigan won.
2) Penalites will beat you.
Notre Dame couldn’t defeat the little yellow flag that ruined their afternoon. Countless big plays got called back on penalties, and while I can’t say that I agree with many of the calls that the refs made, Notre Dame needs to eliminate the self-induced mistakes if they want to be a championship team.
(The overturned touchdown call on Armando Allen’s screen pass touchdown will need to be explained to me tomorrow, because I’m done trying to figure it out today.)
3) Michael Floyd is an All-American.
I officially launched the Michael Floyd for Heisman campaign sometime during the second quarter, and the only thing that could slow Floyd down was the hard surfaced track surrounding the field at the Big House. Floyd’s 139 yards could have been more, and Michigan’s secondary had no answer for anything Floyd did. In the end, it’s a loss, but there’s no question that Floyd is one of the most explosive players in college football.
4) Tate Forcier is special.
As much as it pains Notre Dame fans to admit it, Tate Forcier is a special player. Forcier’s ability to create time in the pocket, to run with the football, and to handle the pressure that comes with big game situations is something that Michigan fans will immediately embrace. While Jimmy Clausen’s numbers might be more impressive than Forcier’s, the touchdown run and final drive down the field will be all that people remember when they think of this game in the years to come.
5) The vultures will start swirling.
We will now figure out what this Notre Dame team is all about. Vultures will swirl around Charlie Weis, and the uncomfortable questions will now start to be asked. Notre Dame will kick themselves for this loss, and Weis will be at the center of attention, especially for his decision to throw the ball twice when the Irish could have run the clock down with a running game that was incredibly effective. In the end, Notre Dame lost a game where they outplayed their opponent. That never looks good for a head coach.