Notre Dame vs. Michigan: Live Game Grades and Analysis for the Fighting Irish

Matt SmithCorrespondent IIISeptember 7, 2013

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint #28 of the Michigan Wolverines runs against linebacker Dan Fox #48 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Michigan 41, Notre Dame 30, Final

No. 14 Notre Dame suffered its first regular season loss since 2011 Saturday night, falling to No. 17 Michigan, 41-30, at Michigan Stadium. It was the Irish's final visit to Ann Arbor, as the series with the Wolverines will end following next year's game in South Bend.

Check below for grades and analysis from Notre Dame's loss to Michigan.

Game Analysis for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Run Offense: Notre Dame was never really in a position to utilize its running game, trailing the entire game. The Irish finished with just 96 yards rushing, a poor effort from a unit that was expected to control the trenches.

Pass Offense: Tommy Rees never got in rhythm Saturday night, completing just 29 of 51 pass attempts with two touchdowns and an interception. One of the few bright spots was tight end Troy Niklas, who overcame a first half without a catch to finish with six receptions and a touchdown.

Run Defense: It wasn't awful, but the Irish far too often let five-yard runs turn into 15-yard runs with missed tackles. Devin Gardner gashed the defense for 35 yards, the longest run of the night for the Wolverines.

Pass Defense: Notre Dame's secondary is far from the most athletic unit, but their fundamentals were sound throughout last season. That was not the case Saturday night, as missed tackles and penalties helped allow Gardner to throw for 294 yards and four touchdowns.

Special Teams: This was actually a bright spot for the Irish, as Kyle Brindza converted all three of his field goal attempts. George Atkinson III and T.J. Jones each had a productive return, a rarity in 2012.

Coaching: After this performance, it's hard to remember defensive coordinator Bob Diaco won the Broyles Award last year. Michigan was the far more prepared team. Notre Dame made some adjustments, but they weren't enough to overcome a sizable deficit.

First Half Analysis for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish'

Run Offense: Notre Dame has rotated between George Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle and Cam McDaniel. None have provided a spark, as the Irish have rushed for just 53 yards. Brian Kelly hasn't attempted to really establish the running game, as Michigan's safeties have been crowding the line of scrimmage.

Pass Offense: Tommy Rees has completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw a costly interception that led to Michigan's third touchdown of the half. Six different receivers have caught passes, but Troy Niklas and Chris Brown were surprisingly shut out.

Run Defense: Michigan ran for 88 yards, but Devin Gardner's 35-yard run on a zone read play skews the statistics a bit. The running backs have done little against an Irish defense that has been, as usual, strong against the run. 

Pass Defense: Notre Dame again has no answers for Jeremy Gallon. The senior has caught five passes for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a tackle-breaking 61-yard catch and run for the game's first touchdown. A penalty on KeiVarae Russell led to another Michigan touchdown.

Special Teams: Normally a weakness, Notre Dame has been fairly steady on special teams. Kyle Brindza converted both of his field goal attempts, and T.J. Jones managed an 18-yard punt return.

Coaching: The Irish were outcoached in the first half. The Gardner-Gallon combination has beaten Notre Dame far too often. Offensively, red zone efficiency continues to be a problem, as it was for almost all of 2012.