Game 3 - Notre Dame at Michigan
Trip Start Sep 06, 2013
4Trip End Sep 08, 2013
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Michigan was already upset with Notre Dame for picking the likes of Michigan State and Purdue over Michigan, and Michigan coach Brady Hoke made his feelings known during a press conference in May by stating,"The Notre Dame game, that rivalry, which they're chickening out of..." The week before the game, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly made it even worse when he said, "I really haven't seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries. I've seen it as just one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played." "It's a big regional game." Hoke responded with, "“It is (a big deal) for us, yeah. Everybody looks at everything differently.” “GameDay’ has been here six times for this football game. That’s pretty significant, if they’re coming, whether it’s on this campus or in South Bend. So, it must have some sort of national appeal.” Needless to say, both teams were fired up for this one. It was dubbed "Under the Lights at the Big House II."
Now for a game this big, regardless of what Coach Kelly says, tickets were going to be hard to come by. I asked Michelle, my Notre Dame friend that I had met in Ireland last year, if she knew how I could get tickets to the game. A few weeks later, I heard from her that Uncle Sal had put in for tickets for me. Then, a week before we left for Chicago, I got a FedEx envelope from Uncle Sal with two tickets! Game on!!!
As far as entertainment experiences go, this is an excellent venue. That being said, I can't be as uncomfortable as I was for over three hours and give the stadium the highest rating. Rating - 8 of 10.
This was a pretty hotly contested game with both teams bringing their A-game. Michigan went into halftime with a 27-13 lead, but Notre Dame clawed their way back to come within 4 points with Michigan leading 34-30 with just over nine minutes left in the 4th quarter. Michigan scored again with 4:18 left in the game, and held on for a 41-30 over the Irish.
In a fairly obvious dig at Notre Dame, the Chicken Dance blared over the speakers as the Michigan fans celebrated in the stands. It's too bad this rivalry will have to take a pause for an indeterminate amount of time after 2014. I'm looking forward to next year's version! Rating - 10 of 10.
The Band - We actually got two bands for this game, since the Notre Dame band played, too. Full disclosure: We didn't have the opportunity to move under the press box like I usually do to watch the marching bands, so we couldn't really see the formations as intended, and we couldn't hear the bands well since they don't generally play to the corner of the endzone opposite the press box. I found the Michigan halftime show on YouTube, but I couldn't find the Notre Dame halftime show.
What I did like was that they played a lot during the game. They were undeterred by the stadium music and the crowd, and they played on.
I'll admit that since we didn't have the best vantage point, I'm going a little bit off of the two times I saw this band last year. Rating - 8 of 10.
The formations were reasonably difficult at times, particularly since it would be hard to see where your spots are in the darkened stadium. From what I could tell, they did a decent job of being where they were supposed to be. I also liked the fact that they were always playing when they were moving. They sounded really good, which is also notable since it would have been nearly impossible to read music with the lights that low. That means everybody had to pretty much memorize the music. I really enjoyed this one.
Here's the YouTube video of the show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSGzeDUL0ic
I only have two knocks on the Michigan band. Neither is related to the halftime show, and neither is really their fault. First, I didn't like the fact that they were miked in the stands and had their music pumped through the stadium speakers. Norte Dame didn't have that benefit. On the other hand, a 109,901 seat stadium is pretty difficult to fill with sound from the stands, particularly when it's an amped up crowd during a great football game. Next, I wasn't thrilled with the constant playing of Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes when the band should have been playing. Unfortunately, it is becoming more common in the college football landscape to blare music over the loudspeakers rather than letting the marching band play. Rating - 9 of 10.
During the game, the fans were pretty good. They were appropriately quiet when Michigan was on offense and loud when Notre Dame was on offense. I'd have to give these fans a pretty high score. Rating - 10 of 10.
Best Player - This was a pretty entertaining and high scoring game, so there are a few candidates for best player. On the Notre Dame side, receiver T.J. Jones pulled down 9 receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown while fellow receiver Troy Niklas had 6 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown of his own. But, they lost. So, let's look at the Michigan side of the equation. An obvious choice would be quarterback Devin Gardner, who threw for 294 yards and 4 touchdowns while leading the team with 82 yards rushing and another touchdown. However, he also threw a nasty interception in his own end zone, which gave Notre Dame an easy touchdown and put them in a position to win the game. So, although Devin Gardner had a pretty great game overall, the best player in this game was earned by Jeremy Gallon and his 8 receptions for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns. If you're keeping track, that's over 62% of the receiving yards and 75% of the receiving touchdowns.
Here are a bunch of other pictures from the game. http://michiganphotostore.photoshelter.com/gallery/FBL13-vs-Notre-Dame-Under-the-Lights-II/G0000MACTIPKWe7k/0/C0000Dn0IkFNey9I