Thursday, August 12, 2010

Countdown to Kickoff - 23 days

September 4, 1999

Michigan 26 - Notre Dame 22

#7 Michigan was playing their opening game, with #16 Notre Dame coming in after defeating Kansas in the Eddie Robinson Classic. That had been an excuse for the late 80's Wolverine woes against the Irish, as you know a team makes its biggest improvement between the 1st and 2nd games.
Tom Brady and Drew Henson were fighting for Michigan's starting QB job, Lloyd Carr had decided to start Brady, but play Henson in the second quarter because he famously, "Liked them both."
This game was really a microcosm of many Michigan games this season. Michigan started slowly, Henson's 2nd quarter didn't help the first half continuity, then Michigan got it going late and hopefully held on for the win.
Michigan could only manage 3 field goals in the first half (Brady 2 - Henson 1) - bonus points if you remembered Jeff Del Verne was Michigan's kicker. A late TD gave the Irish a 14-9 lead at the half.
Michigan(with Brady playing the rest of the game) started the second half with a strong drive ending with Anthony Thomas scoring on a short run. After a stop, they had to settle for another field goal to take a 19-14 lead late in the 3rd.
The defenses held until Notre Dame scored with just under 5 minutes left. Michigan's D completely lost the ND tight end who caught the safety valve pass and walked 10 yards into the end zone. The Irish opted to go for 2 to get up by a field goal. They were successful, but Bobby Brown was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for posing for the camera after the conversion. This gave Michigan a shorter field to work with. A late hit along the sidelines on a tight end screen added another 15 yards to Michigan's drive. Michigan got down inside the 5 with 3 minutes to go - but failed to score on their first two Thomas runs. On 3rd and goal Thomas was hit right at the goal line, but stretched the ball across the line (at least according to the officials). Del Verne put Michigan up 4 with the PAT, 1:38 remained on the clock.

The Irish had enough time to score but made horrible use of the clock (they would make the same mistakes later in the season against Purdue), the Irish receiver stopped near the Michigan 10 yard line, but short of the first down, kept the clock running. They couldn't clock it in time and Michigan escaped with the 26-22 victory.

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