1st Quarter: Outside the midwest, ABC started their broadcast in the middle of the 1st quarter, because the early game ran late and they did not change over. The same thing that happened last week for me against Western. Michigan was leading 3-0 when I actually got to start watching and recording. Michigan had all the momentum early when the defense recovered a fumble.Tom Brady was able to get into position for another field goal and you just knew not scoring touchdowns was going to haunt. The Irish marched down the field thanks to a long swing pass to RB Tony Rice and a bad facemask penalty. WR Joey Getherall scored on a slick option reverse that confused the over pursuing Michigan defense and took a 7-6 lead.
2nd Quarter: As was the custom in 1999, sophomore Drew Henson came in to guide the offense in the 2nd quarter. He displayed his massive potential, completing a couple of nice passes, but Michigan kicked yet another field goal and re-established a 9-7 lead. We exchanged punts and Notre Dame drove down and scored another touchdown on quarterback Jarious Jackson's Whirling Dervish dive into the endzone to take a 14-9 halftime lead.
Coming into the game, Notre Dame was very confident their offense could bewilder our defense because they had hired former Syracuse offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers for the same position. Rogers was the OC for the 1998 Syracuse team (led by Donovan McNabb) that came into Michigan Stadium and shredded us. Rogers is currently the QB coach at Virginia Tech. However, Jarious Jackson was not McNabb and our defense held him in check most of the game.
3rd quarter: Tom Brady was given the keys to the offense in the second half, and he did not disappoint. The first pass of the quarter was a 28-yard bullet to David Terrell. He guided the the team 80 yards in just nine plays, closing with an Anthony Thomas' two-yard touchdown run to give Michigan the lead 16-14. Michigan blew a golden opportunity to put some distance between them and the Irish when Ian Gold caused a fumble in Irish territory, but Jeff Del Verne missed a 27 yard FG. Late in the quarter Del Verne made his 4th FG of the game to extend the lead to 5 points, 19-14.
4th quarter: The emotional leader and defensive star of the game was safety Tommy Hendricks. He picked off a Jackson pass after visibly limping a couple of plays before, but we missed another FG, allowing the Irish to stay in the game. For some reason the Michigan defense went into prevent mode with and allowed Notre Dame to pick them apart. The Irish scored a go-ahead touchdown with 4 minutes left in the game when they converted a 4th down. Musburger went crazy screaming "shades of Desmond Howard" when he saw the wide open tight end with nothing but 10 yards of open space between him and the endzone. Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie called time-out following the TD to set up a 2 point conversion play designed to give a 3 point cushion, and they succeeded -- BUT Notre Dame WR Bobby Brown decided to pose for the TV camera and was flagged for a 15 yard misconduct penalty on the kick. This was a HUGE moment in the game because it stuck a big needle and exploded the Irish momentum bubble.
It was now Tom Brady time to give the nation a preview of future his Super Bowl form. After Marcus Knight dropped a pass on the first play, Notre Dame continued their implosion with a stupid late hit on TE Shawn Thompson on the second play of the drive. Brady and Terrell connected on beautiful post pass to take the Wolves to the 5 yard line - and you started to wonder if we would score too quickly. Anthony Thomas delivered the rest, even though he needed to score twice (no replay in 1999). Irish fans will forever complain that AT did not get across the goal line on the touchdown. Michigan leads 26-22 with 1:38 left. Maybe we did score to early.
Notre Dame sputtered initially but converted on a critical third down pass for 36 yards (don't they always do that against us?) and the next thing you knew they had the ball inside the 20 yard line. But the football gods were on our side as time ran out when they got the ball to the 10 but did not cross the first down marker and Michigan stormed the field with the victory.
Interesting notes: You can see highlight of this game from Wolverine Historian on YouTube. This game re-set the NCAA record for largest crowd with 111,523 crammed a the very warm Big House. Even in the first game of the season, our grass was a problem, check out the divot made by the Notre Dame tackler on AT's final touchdown. ABC's Brent Musburger was even more annoying 10 years ago than he is today. His future broadcasting partner Bob Davie was on the sidelines. If you pay attention you can see Florida coach Urban Meyer on the sideline for the Irish, he was the WR coach. Michigan was blessed with an unbelievable array of NFL talent on this team. The set of linebackers: Ian Gold, Dhani Jones, and Larry Foote have all gone on to very productive careers. After a couple of years of sitting on the Denver Bronco's bench Jarious Jackson has been a very productive professional QB for the BC Lions in the CFL. Tom Brady was a stud then, but no one knew it.
What did we learn from this game?It is better to score touchdowns than it is to kick field goals. Anthony Thomas was rugged running back for Michigan and could carry the load of an entire game. Drew Henson had a cannon for an arm and should have never listened to George Stienbrenner. It is sure is nice to have a future Hall of Famer at QB when you are down and need to score late in the 4th quarter. Undisciplined players and too much celebration can hurt you in so many ways. Both teams showed that a prevent defense can sometimes prevent winning. And finally, beating Notre Dame is always fun.