Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Irish on the Rise After Victory over Wolverines

Pete Schauer@@Pete_SchauerCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Kicker Kyle Brindza #27 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates with teammates after his fourth quarter, 39 yard field goal 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

I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong about Saturday's game between the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines and the No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who defeated the Wolverines in a low-scoring affair, 13-6.

It was my mistake to think that Michigan QB Denard Robinson could step up in a big game and lead the Wolverines to victory, as he threw four interceptions and was absolutely ineffective throwing the football.

Notre Dame, on the other hand, was impressive on the defensive side of the ball, forcing six Michigan turnovers.

Despite surrendering more offensive yardage to the Wolverines, Notre Dame's No. 4-ranked defense (in terms of points scored) stepped up in a big way to bail out its struggling offense.

The Irish are now 4-0 this season and have back-to-back victories against ranked teams. Week 3 of the college season saw Notre Dame down No. 10 Michigan State 20-3, as the defense yet again forced a turnover and kept the Spartans offense at bay.

This is one of the best starts to a season in recent memory for the Irish, as ESPN Stats & Info highlights with this tweet:

Notre Dame is 4-0 for the first time since 2002 when it started 8-0

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) Sept. 23, 2012

Looking at the rest of their schedule, there's no reason to think the Fighting Irish can't clinch a BCS bowl berth this season, as the program appears to be on the rise.

Under head coach Brian Kelly, the Irish had back-to-back 8-5 seasons in 2010 and 2011 after three consecutive down years under Charlie Weis from 2007-09.

Sophomore QB Everett Golson has done a great job of managing games for Notre Dame, understanding that the Irish defense is what's going to lead the team to a bowl game. Notre Dame is averaging just 25.8 PPG this season, which ranks No. 86 in the FBS rankings, while the defense is surrendering a mere nine points per game.

The Irish will play the Miami Hurricanes Saturday, Oct. 6 before hosting the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal in Week 6.

If the Notre Dame defense continues its momentum on the defensive side, this program is in for an immensely successful season.

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