SOUTH BEND, Ind. — For all the talk about Michigan’s “new” offense under quarterback Shea Patterson, it looked awfully familiar and weak.
For all the talk about all the changes — the new coaches and new strength coach — the Wolverines had more cramps than touchdowns.
For all the talk about Michigan’s “great” and "feared" defense — yikes, Notre Dame just scored again.
For all the talk about Michigan's "improved" offensive line — uh, no. Don't even go there.
The Wolverines came out and fizzled on Saturday night, cramping up with fatigue and mistakes, mounting a late charge but losing against Notre Dame, 24-17.
Once again, the Wolverines couldn’t run the ball.
Once again, the Wolverines couldn't find a spark. Not until a late fourth-quarter push.
Once again, the Wolverines couldn’t find enough big plays when it mattered the most.
And once again, Michigan couldn’t beat a ranked team on the road. Stop me if that sounds like a broken record.
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This, obviously, is on Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. His preparation failed. His changes have yet to work. And Michigan isn't new and improved. It looked beaten and broken for most of the game, until a late push in the fourth quarter.
“It’s not the end,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the beginning for us.”
Actually, it felt like a continuation.
The story of this game wasn’t Patterson.
The story of this game was Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush.
A year ago, Wimbush completed less than half of his passes, but he came out firing against the Wolverines. Wimbush, who is known as a running quarterback, hit five of his first seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Just when you thought the Wolverines had him sacked, he would slip away and hit somebody for a first down.
Just when you thought the Wolverines had the Irish in third-and-long, he sneaked up the middle and picked up another first down.
“He played a heck of a ball game,” Harbaugh said. “I thought we limited that in the second half.”
Notre Dame scored two touchdowns on its first two possessions and it was like a gut punch that left the Wolverines looking stunned and gasping for air.
Wait a second.
The Irish did that to Michigan’s vaunted defense?
The Wolverines had the third-ranked defense in the entire nation last season, allowing just 27 touchdowns in 13 games.
And Michigan returned nine starters.
But the Irish gashed the Wolverines quickly.
“I didn’t feel they dominated us,” Michigan captain Chase Winovich said. “They made plays.”
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