Notre Dame: Fighting Irish Defense Proves to Be a Force

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 22, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Linebacker Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates with teammates in the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame didn't just beat Michigan on Saturday night. Its defense made a statement to the rest of college football.

In the 13-6 victory at Notre Dame Stadium, the Fighting Irish completely baffled Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Not only did the electric dual-threat quarterback go 13-of-24 for 138 yards and four interceptions (all in the first half), it took him 26 rushes to post 90 yards on the ground (3.5 yards per carry) and he lost a fumble.

Coming into the contest, Robinson was averaging 9.3 yards per attempt and 8.8 yards per carry. He had rushed for 324 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games.

But Notre Dame—which allowed three yards per carry and zero touchdowns in its first three games—stifled Robinson on Saturday, showing everyone that the program would not be intimidated. Robinson was sacked three times and constantly looked uncomfortable in the pocket.

Keep in mind, this was after the Fighting Irish held then-No. 10 Michigan State to three points last week. Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt in that game while star running back Le'Veon Bell averaged a ho-hum 4.1 yards per carry.

Notre Dame faces three more opponents that are ranked down the road: No. 9 Stanford (Oct. 13), No. 6 Oklahoma (Oct. 27) and No. 13 USC (Nov. 24). Each of these teams is averaging at least 30 points per game. That's why it's critical that the stellar defensive play continues. 

After a disappointing 8-5 campaign last season that saw Notre Dame lose to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl, the Fighting Irish have a real chance of doing something special this season behind a defense led by inside linebacker Manti Te'o (who apparently is a ball hawk now beyond being a fearsome tackling machine).

Fighting Irish diehards have a right to be excited about their team. Notre Dame is a legitimate Top 10 squad right now.

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