On a night that was full of almost every type of emotion, Michigan's Wolverines stood up.
The resolve shown by this team is something that has not been seen by a Michigan team in several years. But there are three men to thank for this victory. In appropriate order, they are Denard Robinson, Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriguez—yes, him too.
If you turned off the game when Michigan was down 24-7 in the third quarter and seemingly getting even worse with each incompletion, you did something that Denard Robinson refused to do—quit. The kid from Deerfield Beach, Florida, may struggle with his accuracy at times, but his laser-like focus on his goal is the stuff of legends.
He was antsy toward the end of the first half, desperately wanting to try to spark his team before the break, but the coaches made him wait. As Denard took that knee to run out the clock and head into halftime, he had to be thinking, "I gotta shake this off, but the coaches won't let me try to do something here."
Hoke and his staff's foresight turned out to be a good thing, as Michigan headed into the half still in reach, down only 17-7 despite doing everything they could to lose the game. Denard himself was struggling to connect with his receivers. It looked like a sad, vexing game of dodge ball at one point.
Robinson was 2-of-8 passing early in the first half and was finding it easier to connect with Notre Dame defenders than his own guys. Hoke knew better than to let this kid make it too hard on himself and his team, so they did the conservative thing and went into the locker room to recoup.
Michigan hung around, showing a toughness that is directly attributable to their coach. The defense, beleaguered by letting up over 500 yards of total offense, bent but refused to break on many occasions. They forced big turnovers in the red zone, including a key fumble recovery just one play after a pass interference call had given ND the ball just steps away from the end zone.
Perhaps the most striking play in a game full of big ones was the fumble scoop by Denard Robinson; it was a play perhaps only he could pull off so smoothly. It showed just how deeply No. 16 wants to win and how earnest he is about doing so.
While that play certainly wasn't the highlight of the game, one side-story of this whole event was the players Rich Rodriguez recruited and the impact they had on this game.
In the days of old, a high-powered Michigan offense would have a dominant receiver, one you knew would take over when the game was close. The last true one of those was, of course, Braylon Edwards.
However, there are times when that one player is seemingly not enough. Luckily for Michigan, they have a stable full of electrifying (if undersized) playmakers, just waiting to strike when the opponent least expects it.
These players, such as Vincent Smith and Jeremy Gallon, all made plays that literally tore the heart out of Notre Dame's chest.
Hopefully, as Borges adopts to a more pro-style offense, Michigan will continue to recruit these types of players in order to balance out the efficiency with an explosive element.
So whether or not the Heisman Hype Machine starts heating up in Ann Arbor for Denard Robinson, the only thing that truly matters is we have a team that has shown it won't quit on itself. That alone is about as good as a Heisman nomination any day.
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