NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Sophomore running back/wide receiver Jafar Armstrong rushed for a pair of touchdowns in his first collegiate game and senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush went 12-of-22 for 170 yards with a touchdown pass to senior receiver Chris Finke as No. 11/12 Notre Dame defeated No. 14/14 Michigan 24-17 in a primetime matchup at Notre Dame Stadium
Though the Irish led 21-10 at halftime and 24-10 late in the fourth quarter, Michigan threatened until the end with an touchdown capping an 80-yard drive with 2:49 remaining and forcing a stop of the Irish offense on the next possession.
The Irish defense had the final say, however, as senior defensive tackle Jerry Tillery forced a fumble — recovered by senior linebacker Te’von Coney — on a sack of Wolverine quarterback Shea Patterson in the final minute.
Notre Dame employed a balanced offense with 170 yards passing to go with 132 rushing yards for 302 yards of total offense, while Michigan totaled 307 yards with 249 coming through the air.
How It Happened
The Irish opened the scoring just 1:25 into the game when sophomore running back Jafar Armstrong scored his first career touchdown in his first career start to stake Notre Dame to a 7-0 lead. The 13-yard rush capped a 75-yard drive that saw quarterback Brandon Wimbush go 2-for-4 for 44 yards, with completions to Chase Claypool (for 16 yards) and Miles Boykin (for 28 yards).
The Irish defense forced a Michigan punt on the Wolverines’ first possession, regaining the ball on their own four-yard line. The Irish converted on third down with a 26-yard reception by tight end Alize Mack from Wimbush, and the Irish capitalized after a targeting call disqualified Michigan defensive back Josh Metellus. Four plays later, the Irish found the end zone again on a 43-yard pass in coverage from Wimbush to receiver Chris Finke.
The Wolverines got on the board less than five minutes into the second quarter with a field goal by Quinn Nordin.
But Armstrong tallied his second touchdown of the night on a four-yard rush at the 7:37 mark of the second quarter to close out another 75-yard scoring drive.
Michigan scored its first touchdown on the ensuing kickoff when Ambry Thomas registered a 99-yard return to make it 21-10, which remained the score through halftime. Through the first two periods, the Irish outgained the Wolverines 233-90 from scrimmage.
Justin Yoon extended the Irish lead at the 4:59 mark in the third quarter with a 48-yard field goal after an apparent Notre Dame touchdown was erased by penalty.
The teams traded possessions until late in the fourth quarter when the Wolverines assembled an 80-yard touchdown drive to pull within 24-17. The seven-play drive was capped by a three-yard rush by Karan Higdon with 2:18 remaining.
The Wolverines forced a three-and-out on the next Irish possession and regained the ball, but the turnover by Patterson — his second of the evening — sealed the Irish victory.
Coney led all defenders with 10 tackles and two quarterback hurries, while Kareem added nine tackles — including two sacks.
Wimbush led the Irish rushing efforts with 59 yards to bring his all-purpose total to 229. Finke led the Irish receivers with 55 yards and a touchdown on three catches, while Chase Claypool tallied 47 yards on three catches.
Patterson was 20-of-30 passing for 227 yards. Higdon led all players with 72 rushing yards.
Offensive Players of the Game
Jafar Armstrong made the difference for the Irish with a pair of rushing touchdowns of 13 and four yards in his first collegiate appearance. Armstrong finished with 44 all-purpose yards. Brandon Wimbush also put together a well-rounded game with 229 total yards — 170 passing yards to go with 59 on the ground.
Defensive Players of the Game
Te’von Coney led the defense with 10 tackles and two quarterback hurries. His fumble recovery in the final minute helped the Irish hold onto the 24-17 victory. Alohi Gilman made an immediate impact in the Irish secondary, recording seven tackles and two pass break-ups to elevate the Irish pass defense.
Stat of the Game
Notre Dame and Michigan met in prime time to open a season for the fourth time in series history. The Irish improved to 4-0 against the Wolverines in night time openers, along with a 23-17 win in 1982, 19-17 victory in 1988 and 28-24 decision in 1990.
Joanne Norell, Senior Editor, Athletics Communications at the University of Notre Dame, has been a member of Fighting Irish Media since 2014 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of Gameday Magazine. Additionally, she oversees editorial content for UND.com, WatchND and department publications. She has previously served as athletics communications director for women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, and cross country/track & field, and continues to work with the national championship fencing program.