Michigan Football: Notre Dame, Zeros, and Turmoil


The Wolverines struggled in the last game against Notre Dame for the foreseeable future. Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

As of late, Michigan football has had several games that served as wake-up calls. Last year was the Akron debacle, just a mere three weeks into the season. This year, the timeline was moved up a week.

Michigan lost to Notre Dame on Saturday, 31-0. The Irish scored three times in the first half, but most Michigan fans weren’t worried. They knew the history of the series, and the first Under the Lights game was still fresh in the minds of many. A comeback could be imminent. We waited, and waited, then finally realized it wasn’t going to happen.

The good feelings from Appalachian State have already worn off. Most fans aren’t that riled up, they are just weary. No one wants a repeat of 2013, a season that slowly raised the blood pressure of every person who watched the programs.

Yet despite all the questions we have, it’s still a little too early to make judgements. Doug Nussmeier has only called two games for Michigan. The rotation of defensive coaches may still work out. But the questions are going to linger, especially since there are still so many are left over from 2013.

There were positives: Michigan did a fantastic job against the Notre Dame rushing attack, holding the Irish to 54 yards on the ground. Michigan actually out-gained Notre Dame as well.

Sadly, there isn’t much beyond that. The Notre Dame series is now finished for the foreseeable future, and the Irish got the last laugh in their home stadium. They increased their lead in the all-time winning percentage, a meaningless stat, but one that holds weight with die hard fans.

It wasn’t just the loss, but the way it transpired. Michigan had never been shutout in a Notre Dame game, and Saturday was the first shutout since 1984. It was demoralizing, and there isn’t another way to describe it. Watching and hoping for a comeback, it was painful to see continued failed attempts.

Devin Gardner looked nothing like the quarterback who only missed one pass last week. There was 100 yards rushing by everyone on the team, whereas the previous week saw two players eclipse that total. Granted, one game was against Appalachian State and the other against a good and slightly underrated Notre Dame team, but it’s still not an excuse.

So what about going forward? Earlier today, Brady Hoke told the press “If they’re truly fans, they’ll believe in these kids and what they’ve done and the hard work they’ve put in. If they’re not, they won’t.” This isn’t the problem, because everyone wants to believe in the football players. They are all highly-touted recruits, and they should always be in a position to win. It’s not the kids that fans don’t believe in, they are worried about the system that Michigan football players have been placed in.

The problem here lies with fandom. Michigan fans are tired of blind fandom, of supporting an institution that doesn’t seem to be correcting it’s mistakes. It’s possible to cheer the players on while being critical of the direction of the program.

To recap: we got our a wakeup call a week early, we still have the rest of the season to turn it around, the Notre Dame series ended with a debilitating loss, and Brady Hoke wants fans to stick by the players. There are other issues, but it is too much to cover in one article. All that can be done now is wait for next Saturday, when Michigan takes on Miami (OH) in the Big House.

So here’s to the hope that Michigan rebounds, and makes this loss an aberration. If Michigan is to return to prominence, losses like Notre Dame cannot occur. How to prevent them? I’m not sure anyone knows.