Michigan v. Notre Dame 9-10-11: First Night Game Ever!
I managed to record a brief clip of the madness that captures the essence of the night:
9-10-11. Sure that sounds like a numerical sequence, but on this day, or should I say this “night,” that order of numbers would mark a very special evening for the University of Michigan football program. The first ever night game took place at the Big House between the two most storied universities: Michigan v. Notre Dame. 10 out of the previous 20 meetings have been decided by 5 points or less. This game has been “hyped up” for over a year in Ann Arbor and throughout college football. All you can hope for in a setting like this is for good weather and a close game, or as my father would say “I would be comfortable with a 30-point lead by halftime!”
The idea was to tailgate with friends for about 4-5 hours, head to the stadium, watch a competitive football game “under the lights,” and then run around The Big House at night. Pretty straight-forward approach (on paper) or so I thought…
Unless you have been locked away in some dark room or pretending you didn’t make the drive from South bend, you should know by now that this battle royale was one of the, if not “the” best games ever played at the Big House. Down 24-7 at the end of the 3rd quarter, the mighty Wolverines came back with a 4th quarter for the ages – an instant classic. A fumble by Michigan’s running back at the Notre Dame 1-yard line could’ve been disastrous, but QB Denard Robinson picked up the loose ball and ran in for the touchdown.
Momentum is a funny thing.
No matter what the venue or setting – be it a collegiate football game, a relationship, life or certainly training for the likes of the Great Wall of China. It’s contagious and you better take full advantage of the the ride when it’s moving your direction.
As Michigan narrowed the gap from 24-14, then 24-21, the stadium was erupting! I have been fortunate to see many games at the Big House, but this was unlike any my eyeballs had witnessed before. I couldn’t believe the atmosphere. With 1:10 to go, Michigan took the lead 28-24 on a dump-off pass to RB Vincent Smith. I couldn’t hear a thing, the noise level was deafening.
This was one of the greatest comebacks in Michigan history or so it seemed. 40 seconds later, Notre Dame scored a touchdown and like many times before, this game was being decided in the final minutes. I texted my good friend Derek and said “We are still going to win.”
:30 to go, Michigan had the ball on their own 20. An incomplete pass left :23 on the clock. My heart was racing, the stadium was shaking and the tension was eerily all-encompasing. Robinson stepped back and made a pass to a WIDE open Jeremy Gallon who sprinted down to the Notre Dame 16-yard line with only :08 remaining.
A field goal to tie, a touchdown to become legendary.
Michigan QB Denard Robinson took the snap…7,6,5, – the ball was lofted to the corner of the end zone, 4,3,2…
114,804 fans were going bonkers!!! Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree came down with the football making the final score 35-31 for the Maize & Blue. Originally, I wanted to run around the Big House for Papa & PPA research but this environment was too insane. I fully admit I got caught up in the chaos. The Big House was rocking, under the lights, and no one was leaving, not even the Irish fans (probably from being in shock more than anything).
Rest assured, I will return against our arch-rivals, the hated Ohio State Buckeyes. One way or the other, Run 4 Papa will run around the Big House even if it’s single digits outside in the heart of wintertime. I’ll just make sure not to wait until the very last second…although that can be exhilarting!
To see more pictures from the game, go to: Under the Lights