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Posted on Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 11:59 p.m.

Denard Robinson leads 17-point rally as Michigan football team stuns Notre Dame, 35-31

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson celebrates with fans after leading a fourth-quarter comeback against Notre Dame. Michigan won, 35-31.

Melanie Maxwell |

From the start, the Michigan football team had several banner moments Saturday night.

The Wolverines made Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard an inaugural "Michigan Football Legend," drew in a Michigan Stadium-record 114,804 fans and hosted its first home night game.

And, thanks to Denard Robinson, Michigan finished the night with a memorable victory.

Robinson accounted for four fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree with two seconds left in the game. That completed a 17-point comeback and give the Wolverines a 35-31 victory during their "Under the Lights" celebration.

"Every time you see this University of Michigan team, you're going to see a team that is going to play together and is going to keep fighting," Robinson said. "Until there's two zeros on the clock."

Michigan enters next week's game against Eastern Michigan with a 2-0 record under new coach Brady Hoke. Notre Dame, which opened the season ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, is 0-2.

After starting the fourth quarter down 24-7, Robinson gave Michigan its first lead of the game with 1:12 remaining when he hit senior running back Vincent Smith for a 21-yard screen pass touchdown. Brendan Gibbons' extra point made it 28-24, and the Wolverines appeared to be on their way to victory.

But Notre Dame had other plans.

Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees needed just 42 seconds to go 61 yards, capping a four-play drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Theo Riddick with 30 seconds to play, giving the Irish a 31-28 advantage.

Robinson still had 30 seconds to move Michigan.

The junior quarterback further implanted himself in Michigan football lore with a game-winning drive that covered 80 yards in 20 seconds.

Robinson began the drive with a 64-yard pass to sophomore receiver Jeremy Gallon that put the Wolverines on the Notre Dame 16 with 8 seconds left.

On the next play, Robinson lofted a jump ball to the corner of the end zone that was hauled in by Roundtree.

The play was put under review, but was ultimately ruled a score -- completing the comeback and sending the record-setting crowd into a frenzy.

"It wasn't pretty probably at times on both ends of it," Hoke said. "But like I told our players, it's great to win.

"To go out there and play for 60 minutes and to win the football game in the manner that we won ... I'm real proud of them."

Asked if he considered kicking a potential game-tying field goal late rather than go for the game-winning touchdown pass -- Hoke said, no, he was playing to win.

"We had two timeouts, so we were going to at least give it a shot into the endzone," Hoke said. "If Denard would've scrambled and got tackled, (we thought) we had enough time to call a timeout. ... And I (still) may have gone for the touchdown.

"Why not? You play to win. You might as well go win."

Robinson finished 11-of-24 passing for 338 passing yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran 16 times for 108 yards and a score.

Senior receiver Junior Hemingway made three catches for 165 yards and a score, while Gallon made two grabs for 78 yards and a touchdown.

Roundtree's game-winning catch was his only reception of the night.

Rees finished with 315 passing yards to go along with three touchdowns, but also tossed a pair of interceptions - two of Notre Dame's five turnovers on the day.

Hoke and the Wolverines are 2-0 -- but the first-year coach made sure to caution that the club isn't where it needs to be yet.

Not even close.

"We're a long way away and you're going to get sick of me saying that, but we are," he said. "The expectations for this program is way too high for us to think we're where we need to be."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.


james Kurtz

Mon, Sep 12, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

Fortunately UM was able to change its game plan the second half. This may not have happened in the past. The UM players were in tremendous shape and that speaks well for the rest of the season. Go Blue

james Kurtz

Mon, Sep 12, 2011 : 12:46 p.m.

I never thought I woulds feel sorry for Notre Dame but I almost did today. I love Michigan but we got lucky on the Hopkins fumble coming back to Denard allowing UM to score. The rest we earned and deserved to win the game. I have never seen a fourth quarter this exciting and the UM fans were great. GO BLUE

Howard the Duck

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Michigan was lucky that ND was so inept.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

The Big House won that game!!! Talk about home court advantage! Michigan fans never gave up! Love it! Michigan's coming back!

Robert Williams

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

I love that Hoke is letting everybody know they've got a lot of work to do! that was one of the most exciting games I've ever seen! but Michigan made a lot of mistakes in that game. especially offensively! nice to know he's not settling for this kind of offensive performance! we know they can make big plays. if they can get some consistency on both sides of the ball. we're talking about one dangerous team here.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

This was a tough game to watch until the 4th quarter. It was a great comeback and a great win. Once again Coach Hoke and his staff have shown that they are very good at making the necessary adjustments on both sides of the ball to win the game. Our O was not very good for most of the night, and then in the 4th quarter Denard and the O really stepped it up. Great job of fighting through adversity (3 INT's ...) and making the plays when it counted. Other than the 1st 2 ND drives and their last one, the D played well enough to win the game. They came up with turnovers and made some key stops when we needed them. Between the first 2 ND drives and the last one, we gave up only 10 points, and that kept us in the game. We saw improvement in kickoff return coverage, which was good to see. If you look at this game from the standard that our coaches want, it shows we have a long way to go. There is no doubt that Coach Hoke and staff are going to get us to the standard of greatness ... it will take some time, but we will get there. Go Blue !


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

please. . . we need a tail back. . . will somebody step up! great game, GO BLUE!!!


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

The greatest badly played game I ever saw!

NC Wolverine 20

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 1 p.m.

More than 500 yards of offense. 5 turnovers. Does this sound familiar to anyone? ND has a very talented offense, but two games in a row in which they give the ball away 5 times constitutes a trend. Then again, Rees had 2 picks compared to Denard's 3 picks. Even so, UM wins the turnover battle and wins the game. Again.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

What was good to see in this team was playing hard, even when behind and outplayed, getting stronger towards the end of the game, and a wonderful call with the screen pass to Vincent Smith. But M seemed to have lost the game with a poor defensive call with 40 seconds left, a fake blitz, but one that allowed a ND player all by himself. But what a game! Robinson, though at times he made poor decisions, never gave up. And his ability to pick up yardage was incredible at times....

Susie Q

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 7:01 a.m.

I cannot believe that I am still up and writing a comment at almost 3 am. I was at the game and had resigned myself to a loss at the end of the 3rd quarter, I just wanted to keep it close; not lose by a blowout. WOW! When we got the ball back with 30 seconds left....I was starting to believe. I knew that we had won the last two Notre Dame games in the final 30 seconds and believed that Denard might be able to get it done. He did not disappoint, nor did Roy Roundtree. The lack of any kind of running game is very worrisome and the lack of consistency on both offense and defense causes concern. But let's enjoy this amazing victory. Go Blue!


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 6:34 a.m.

I'm glad coach Mattison is on our side !! Put a cowboy hat on him and he is the John Wayne of the Michigan D.. Great Game..


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 6:11 a.m.

Unbelievable game, an awesome ending, the team persevering. Great recruiting coup for the program. I love being a Michigan Wolverine Fan. I am dismayed at some things during the game, for instance I thought the coaches should have challenged when the Irish Punter was down on his knee when he caught the ball. The officiating was really questionable, a phantom pass interference call in the end zone on us, next play we get a turnover thank goodness. The interception DR threw intended for Gallon near the end zone was interference on them, yet no call. But ill advised pass by Denard still. Defense is a work in progress but they kept us in the game and forced turn overs at crucial times and they will improve with time and the coaches show the ability to adjust as the game transpires. The Offense was disconcerting for much of the game but played great when it mattered most, that is a work in progress. I actually wondered during the game that if Denard kept struggling as badly as he was, if the coaches would've had the gumption to put Gardner in the game. I'm glad it turned out to be unnecessary. And to Belboz, what the heck are you talking about man? Hoke coaches the team during the week, let's his OC and DC conduct their units and he is calm and cool on the side line which transfers on to the players and he comes off so classy all the time and tells it like it is and gives credit to the other teams and coaches. Go Blue, for This is Michigan!!! Good night and good luck and good morning and good afternoon and good.........

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

@river: Thanks. Did not know that--never heard it announced in the stadium. In any event, some strange calls. Frankly, on the next-to-last UM TD drive, from my seat, I thought Denard got a very generous spot on the scramble that ended in a 1st down. When I got home and watched the 4th quarter on my DVR, I was confirmed in my belief--the refs gave him at least half a yard he did not deserve. Good Night and Good Luck


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

Those were Big East refs working the game last night

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

Gotta enjoy this for a couple of days, Mick, before we dissect. Except to say that this simply confirms the B10 refs remain the worst in the sport. If Floyd interfered in the end zone, then the ND guy interfered on that interception. And I believe the same back judge/field judge made both calls.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:36 a.m.

What a game... GO BLUE!


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:35 a.m.

Incredible. Down 17 in the fourth, this TEAM never gave up, never gave in one little bit. Denard and the offense stepped up big in the fourth, and the defense kept Michigan in the game and made some huge plays along the way after ND's first two drives had UM down 14-0 early in the first. Just incredible team work and resilience in the face of adversity. As coach Hoke says, and what ND knows painfully too well..."This is Michigan!" And once again, that actually means something.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 6:35 a.m.

I voted for ya AZ..


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 6 a.m.

"And once again, that actually means something." Fairly sure this is exactly where we were last year, and the year before. Let's not count our chickens before they're hatched, hm?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:27 a.m.

This game leaves me speechless. Stadium was packed nearly an hour before the game. The crowd was pumped. The presentation to Desmond. The noise. The maize rage. The comeback. And then the second comeback. And the crowd didn't leave--tens of thousands still there 30 minutes after the game was over. What a night. GO BLUE!! Good Night and Good Luck


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

He didn't say Go Blue until the end.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:36 a.m.

You had me at Go Blue.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:22 a.m.

Great Game... But, Brady Paterno makes me wonder what the heck he does over their as Head Coach. He has no headphones on, is totally un-involved with the offense as hit sits off to the side. Denard comes off the field to seemingly no-one. The defense is called, and Brady just leans over with his hands on his knees. The atmosphere was incredible. The passion from the players was intense. I just can't figure out what Hoke's role is. The defense was horrible. Almost lost them the game. The special teams was horrible. Almost lost them the game. The offense was horrible until mid 3rd quarter. Only 90 yards till that point. Once again, Denard comes through in the clutch. Brady needs to get a little more involved in game time and decision making. Otherwise, he is just a figure head. At least Rich Rod was knee deep in one of the most dynamic offenses around. I'm not sure what Brady is doing over there. Very odd...

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Sep 12, 2011 : 2:23 a.m.

All great football coaches wore headphones. Lombardi Landry Hayes Bryant McKay Switzer Parseghian Paterno . . . or maybe not. Good Night and Good Luck


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

you really miss a great deal about what leadership is.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

Time to return to your own planet belboz. This was a tough game to watch as a UM fan (until the great ending), but once again Coach Hoke and his staff showed that they could make the necessary adjustments to win a game. They are a GREAT coaching staff. RR's teams never made good adjustments during the game, and often times the 2nd half was WORSE than the 1st half. As for the D, we looked bad on the first 2 drives of the game, and on ND's final drive of the game, but we also got 5 turnovers and made some key stops when we needed to. Also, our special teams actually improved alot from the 1st game and from the last 3 years ... especially in kickoff returns.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Well, the offense wasn't dynamic for 3 quarters of this game. You can't depend on Denard to get you 28 points in the 4th every week. Or the other team to give you 4 turnovers, either.

1st Down

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:49 a.m.

i supposed Brady should wear headphones as a prop to fool and appease stupid fans like you who do not understand football.

1st Down

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:49 a.m.

wow you are stupid


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:38 a.m.

Hopefully our offense under Hoke is dynamic for all 12 games rather than just the first 5 like they were under the previous coach.

Jim Meidlinger

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:10 a.m.

Two teams, in only the second game of the season, with no conference implications and neither with a realistic shot at a national championship. Yet a game and an environment 1000x better than any NFL contest, including any Super Bowl. East coasters and west coasters, whoever thinks the NFL is America's sport or is better than college football is out of their freaking mind.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:45 a.m.

I can only imagine what hundreds of thousands of Wolverine fans across the country are feeling right now. Ex-players, ex-coaches, everybody just witnessed a true moment in UM football history that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Oh...and the best part? Hundreds of thousands of Notre Dame fans, ex-players, etc. are feeling pretty cr@ppy right now...AGAIN!!! GO BLUE!!!!


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:40 a.m.

Agreed 100% It doesn't get any better than college football.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:08 a.m.

Looking at the stats, this could have been last year's game, too. Gotta love Denard's ability to make plays under pressure. That said, the team has to develop a running game and it has to tighten up that third-down pass defense.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:01 a.m.

At the start of the 4th quarter, my brother and I were texting each other about another game in the 90s against Virginia where we'd seen the Wolverines come back from 17 points down. I believe it was Mercury Hayes who caught the game-winner, and it was Carr's first year at the helm. Glad the Wolverines could perform more of their heroics for another great coach in his inaugural year. Go Blue!


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

You and me both, AZW! I remember being behind the end zone where Hayes made the catch, going crazy, and leaving the game with a sunburn. Good times!


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:40 a.m.

I was at that Virginia game and this one had me thinking of that one as well. Both GREAT games decided in the closing seconds.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:52 a.m.

Wild game. It was pretty ugly at times, but a wins a win. I've never went from pulling my hair out to celebrating so many times in one game. The offense was really slow to get started, but got it going just in time. The defense bent and bent and bent some more, but never completely broke, and really was the only thing keeping them alive in the first half, considering they got no help from the offense. But the offense came through in the clutch. Over the course of the season the offense is going to keep improving, and once it finds its legs, i think its going to be pretty solid. GO BLUE!


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 9:52 a.m.

Creativity by Mattison may be our best option to rush the QB this year. The front four plays their tails off, but doesnt seem like they have the size and power to overwhelm the OL this year. Those things will come in time though, and so far, im enjoying the wait for the most part.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 5:05 a.m.

Well put RJ. The defense was getting gashed by Notre Dame's run game in the 1st half, but they definitely improved as the game went on. They stiffed the Irish's attempt at ball control in the late 3rd & 4th QT'rs which was huge in giving our offense the ball time and again. Still concerned that we can't get any pressure from the front four without blitzing. They are putting forth good effort, but can't seem to penetrate the pocket.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:38 a.m.

UN-FREAKIN-BELIEVABLE!!!!! I've never seem a more pathetic quarterback and an outstanding quarterback - at the same time! DENARD LOOKED SO BAD AND THEN SO AWESOME IT WAS RIDICULOUS


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

When they let Denard just play... and make the decisions and last minute adjustments he can be gifted in making, look how the game turned around. He's still learning the pro-style and may never achieve in it. Given some freedom to act as he sees fit while the play is unfolding, he is a game-changer and the #1 offensive weapon we possess. It was bad. It was awesome. It was wicked good fun!


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:59 a.m.

Yup....that pretty much sums it up. You cannot count Michigan out of ANY game against ANYONE. It's an old cliche, but he is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. And to think he is only a Junior....


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:55 a.m.

Its absolutely crazy watching him play. But the kid is a gamer for sure.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:36 a.m.

Is there a better player in the US than Denard?

Ryan Munson

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:31 a.m.

Some interesting observations... I will tell you the preparation for the game was immense. I walked around the stadium around midnight yesterday (Saturday) and the streets were alive with crews of people working around the clock to make sure the stadium was prepared for the great numbers of people. Long lines of RVs were seen pulling in to Pioneer High School at 11:30 PM. As far as I could see toward I94 were motor homes and alike to camp out over night. The scoreboards at the stadium were lit up with a "Touchdown Michigan" animation that seemed to loop endlessly. I live on the west side of the city (past Stadium) and thought I saw lightning. Nope. I could see the flashing of the scoreboards from over a mile away and what is most amazing is they project north and south. During the game State St. tonight looked pretty sparse--there were people around but it looked just like it did before the students came for the fall (so many people at the game). Downtown for those that could not make it to the game itself packed local restaurants and bars to watch the game on the big screens. Ann Arbor has never been so lively at night, especially with the good turnout in weather.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:23 a.m.

Denard. You amaze me, kid. Just... wow.


Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 4:19 a.m.

Wow! I mean really wow. Incredibly exciting game.