Today’s blog post takes a closer look at the first night game at the Big House which took place on September 10, 2011. It was the second game of the Brady Hoke Era at Michigan. The Wolverines were scheduled to play the Fighting Irish on this historic day.
Michigan and Notre Dame entered the game with identical records of 1 win and 0 losses. Neither team was rated heading into the rival game. However, Michigan vs Notre Dame is also a BIG game so a national television audience and a sold out crowd was looking forward to the contest.
Notre Dame, behind senior quarterback Tommy Rees, got off to a quick start and jumped out to 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Michigan scored a touchdown late in the 2nd quarter, but the Irish added a late field goal to make it 17-7 at halftime.
Michigan’s defense allowed another Irish touchdown in the third quarter. So, the hole that the Wolverines were in just got deeper. The Maize and Blue footballers trailed 24-7 at the end of the first 45-minutes of play. Wow, they had not over a 17-point deficit in the Big House since the Virginia game in 1995.
Denard Robinson got the comeback started in the final quarter with a 1-yard run at the 14:54 mark. Still plenty of time, but could the defense finally stop Notre Dame’s offense? As it turned out, they did. Michigan took control of the game and controlled things for the next 13-minutes. A Vincent Smith touchdown with just over 1-minute to play gave the Wolverines their first lead of the game at 28-24.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame came right back and scored with 30 seconds remaining in the game. The Irish had the lead at 31-28. As it turned out, 30 seconds was plenty of time for Denard Robinson and his talented teammates. Michigan made the plays and got the ball into position for what appeared to be a field goal attempt that could tie the game. Instead, Brady let Mr. Robinson go for it and Roy Roundtree made a spectacular 16-yard catch to win the game. Final Score: Michigan 35 Notre Dame 31. Wow, what an exciting win for Brady Hoke and his Wolverines!
In addition to the exciting win, there were a number of “firsts” that connect this game to Michigan Football History.
· Brady Hoke’s first “rivalry” game.
· First ESPN Game Day visit of the Brady Hoke Era.
· First night game in the history of Michigan Stadium.
· Michigan (and Notre Dame) wore “throwback” uniforms for the first time.
· The first crowd to exceed 114k for a college football game. Officially, a total of 114,804 people attended the game. It was another college football attendance record at the Big House!
Check out John Broughton’s excellent Highlight video on You Tube!
Yes, September 10, 2011 was an exciting day in Michigan Football History. Denard Robinson made some mistakes, but he also made some very BIG plays. He ran for one touchdown and passed for four more. Brendan Gibbons kicked five straight points after touchdown to provide the winning margin of victory.
It appears that there will be a night game in 2017, but no final decision has been made, yet! At least, not one we know about. No matter when it is and who they play, it promises to be another BIG crowd for this spectacular event. Go Blue!