Notre Dame's William Fuller hauls in a touchdown pass late in the first half. / Matt Cashore, USA TODAY Sports
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Breaking down No. 15 Notre Dame's 31-0 win vs. Michigan:
THE BIG PICTURE: Go ahead and mark Oct. 18 on your calendar. That's when Notre Dame will visit No. 1-ranked Florida State, a game that only happened because of the Irish's new quasi-ACC status. Will both teams hold up their end of the undefeated bargain? After beating Michigan 31-0, the Irish will be favored in their next four and seem poised to keep moving up the rankings.
As for Michigan, it's hard to believe that Brady Hoke isn't on the hot seat, as athletics director Dave Brandon suggested in the preseason. The Wolverines looked pretty impotent offensively, and a blowout in their final meeting with Notre Dame for the foreseeable future won't quiet the fan pressure on Hoke. Before Saturday, Michigan hadn't been shut out since 1984, a span of 365 games.
WHAT WE'LL BE TALKING ABOUT: Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson looks like a completely different player from the guy who was little more than a game manager for the 2012 team that lost to Alabama in the BCS National Championship. Golson had never played before that season, and we didn't get to see his progress last season because he was suspended from school due to an academic issue. A year of work appears to have paid off. Golson was on target with almost everything and made NFL throws, completing 23-of-34 for 226 yards and three touchdowns.
THE DECIDING PLAY: Michigan could have limited the damage in the first half to 14-0 and gotten back in the game with the first possession of the second half. Instead, the Wolverines found themselves in a 21-0 hole when Golson hit Will Fuller for a 24-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left. It wasn't Golson's best throw of the night, but he sniffed out single coverage and put it up high where only Fuller could get it. The 6-foot fuller leapt up to make the grab, and that pretty much that.
KEY STAT: Turnovers have been an issue ever since he took over Michigan's starting quarterback job, and Devin Gardner didn't do anything against Notre Dame to indicate that he's got it fixed. Gardner committed four more - three interceptions and a fumble - adding to the 17 he was responsible for last season. â??
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