Michigan Strikes Back For First Win 38-0 Over Irish

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan's off the hook for now. It's Notre Dame's turn to face the critics alone.

The Wolverines humbled the Fighting Irish 38-0 Saturday in an unprecedented matchup of major college football's winningest programs -- without a win or ranking between them.

Mike Hart ran for 187 yards on 35 carries and scored two touchdowns to back-up his guarantee of a victory, and freshman Ryan Mallett threw for three scores in a game that seemed over soon after it began.

"I like being in the spotlight. For the wrong reasons? No," Hart said. "Hopefully, we'll be in the spotlight for right reasons now."

Michigan (1-2) avoided its first 0-3 start in seven decades, and handed the Irish their worst loss since beating them by the same score four years ago.

Notre Dame (0-3) is winless after three games for just the second time in school history, putting coach Charlie Weis in unwanted company with Bob Davie. The Irish have lost five straight for the first time since the 1985-86 seasons, Gerry Faust's last year and Lou Holtz's first.

"My confidence isn't shaken," Weis said. "But as an organization, we haven't done a very good job."

Michigan looked like it might be able to salvage its season, while the Irish appeared to be even worse than expected after losing to Penn State and Georgia Tech by a combined 51 points.

"We're starting training camp tomorrow," Weis said. "Obviously, after three games, this team is headed in the wrong direction. The only way I know how to fix that is to go back to the start of training camp and start swinging."

Hart, who after last week's loss 39-7 to Oregon guaranteed the Wolverines would beat Notre Dame, had a strong performance even against a defense stacked to stop him.

"I knew I was going to perform because you can't say something like that and not perform," Hart said. "Especially with Chad (Henne) going down, it was more on my shoulders. I accept it. I love it, and I'm going to keep doing what I have to do to help the team win."

Hart was not willing, however, to make another guarantee.

"Never again," he said. "That was a one-time thing."

Michigan's defense suddenly was swarming to the football after giving up 73 points in losses to Appalachian State and Oregon.

Irish freshman Jimmy Clausen was 11-of-17 for just 74 yards and an interception. Clausen was sacked eight times, leading to Notre Dame's rushing total of minus-6.

"I wouldn't want to be in his shoes," Mallett said. "But he's a great player."

Notre Dame prevented Clausen from taking further abuse in the fourth quarter, but had to use Evan Sharpley because backup quarterback Demetrius Jones stunned the team by not showing up for a team meal or the bus trip to Ann Arbor on Friday.

"What happened came as a surprise," Weis said. "But I'm not going to use it as an excuse and say our team was distracted."

Fittingly, Sharpley threw an interception just as it seemed that Notre Dame might avoid a shutout and possibly score a TD on offense for the first time this season.

The Irish did move the ball enough on the ground on their final drive, however, to avoid breaking their school record of minus-12 yards rushing.

That wasn't of much consolation.

"We have to make a lot of changes because we're not getting the job done," offensive tackle Sam Young said.

AP - Sep 15, 7:53 pm EDT
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Starting because of Henne's injury, Mallett was asked to throw just 15 times in his first career start. He had seven completions for 90 yards and TDs to three receivers.

Henne, who had started each of his 39 games at Michigan, is out with what appears to be a knee injury. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has refused to give details, but Henne watched the game with a brace that seemed to be protecting his right knee. Carr said Henne is day-to-day.

It was ugly right from the start for Notre Dame.

The first snap sailed over running back Armando Allen's head, and the Irish lost 27 yards on their first two drives.

"Obviously, we thought we could do some things if we could get on top of them, but we started in the wrong direction," Weis said.

Notre Dame fumbled five times in the first half, losing two of them, and Clausen threw an interception, helping Michigan take a 31-0 lead.

The Wolverines just coasted in the second half, probably losing their place at the start of TV shows and on the front of sports sections.

For the first time since The Associated Press started ranking teams in 1936, Michigan and Notre Dame were both unranked. They also entered the game winless for the first time, not counting openers.

Hart made his guarantee after the Wolverines' worst loss since 1968, and a week after they were upset by Appalachian State.

Michigan can't celebrate for long because it hosts No. 12 Penn State (3-0) on Saturday.

"You don't get much chance to enjoy the victory," said Carr, who was joined in the postgame by friend and actor Russell Crowe. "But it's a lot better than suffering in defeat, I can tell you that."

Now, Notre Dame is college football's laughingstock, and the Irish might have trouble getting untracked next week against undefeated Michigan State at home -- where the Spartans have won five straight.

"We're not worried about Michigan and we're not worried about Michigan State," Weis said. "We're 0-3 with three lopsided losses, so it doesn't really matter who we are playing until we get good at something."


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