By midnight tonight, the USC-OSU game that has been talked about ad-nauseum throughout the week will fail in comparison to the classic week two match-up between Michigan (1-0) and Notre Dame (1-0).
In the end, the driving force behind the Wolverine's 38-34 victory over the Irish was true freshman QB Tate Forcier. Even though the end of the game will be remembered for a blown call by the officials, the win could be the sign of huge days ahead for the Maize and Blue.
Forcier put up some impressive numbers, throwing for 240 yards, completing 23 of his 33 passes. He threw for two touchdowns and a pick in his second start for Michgan.
While the numbers are nice, what they don't show was the amazing poise and spunk the diminutive QB (he weighs in at a slim 185 pounds) showed in a high pressure game against an old fashioned rival. He looked like a lot of things out there—a leader, a gunslinger, a true young talent—but what he did not look like was a freshman starting his second game.
Jimmy Clausen had a great game himself, going 25-42 with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was able to pick apart a Michigan secondary that seemed, in the first half at least, pretty lack luster.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez used his halftime talk to deal with just that problem. In truth, Notre Dame had over 300 of its 490 total yards before the midpoint of the game and lead the Wolverines by three at the half.
Michigan came out firing on all cylinders and lead the Irish 31-26 with just over seven minutes left in the game. The Irish had an impressive eight play drive that resulted in a touchdown. With a two point conversion, they were able to take a 34-31 lead.
After both teams were forced to punt, Forcier lead Michigan down the field in 2:02 in a drive that would make the most ardent Irish fan admit being impressed. Michigan would lead for good, 38-34.
When the ensuing kickoff rolled out of the end-zone, Claussen spoke to the officials to ask to have one second put back on the clock, and it was, giving the Irish exactly eleven seconds.
But somewhere there was a breakdown in communication because by the time Claussen got under center, the clock had been adjusted again, this time down to nine seconds. A completion to Golden Tate ended with the clock at all zeros—or in reality with what should have been two seconds for one more play.
With all the long passes that Claussen has hit receivers for in just two games, one more play would have meant that anything was possible.
Sure, it would have been a full blown miracle if that one more play had scored a touchdown. Notre Dame was on it's own 47 yard line after the Tate reception. But Claussen already has three touchdowns longer than that in the young season. Irish coach Charlie Weis sent his assistant coaches after the quickly exiting officials, but to no avail.
It is certain that Michigan earned the win, but true football fans will always admit that it is a real downer when a game ends on a blown call by the officials.
Week three will see Notre Dame welcome Michigan State (1-1) to South Bend, while Michigan welcomes Eastern Michgan (0-2) to Ann Arbor for the third of its three opening home games.
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