Wolverines devour Irish
UM 38, ND 0: In a rivalry that usually sees good games, Michigan rolls.
By Associated Press
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 14, 2003
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Chris Perry hurdled defenders, broke tackles and even made a one-handed catch.
This wasn't Central Michigan or Houston. It was Notre Dame, and it wasn't supposed to be this easy.
But everything came simply for Michigan in a 38-0 win Saturday, the most lopsided in a storied rivalry with the Irish.
Perry ran for three touchdowns and caught another, running through spacious holes cleared by right tackle Tony Pape and the offensive line. John Navarre provided steady quarterback play, and defensive end Larry Stevens and linebacker Pierre Woods caused havoc in Notre Dame's backfield.
"In a way I'm shocked, in another way it's expected," Perry said. "We're on a mission."
In a rivalry known for nailbiters - nine of the previous 11 meetings were decided by seven points or fewer - Michigan posted the first shutout in the series since its 23-0 win in 1902.
The biggest margin was 23 in 30 previous meetings between the schools, which are first and second on the all-time wins list (Michigan 826, Notre Dame 792).
"They came at us in every imaginable way," Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham said. "There's nothing positive about how we played. We were outplayed, outcoached, everything."
After a fumble on their opening drive, the Wolverines controlled every aspect in perhaps their best performance since winning the national title in 1997.
Michigan, 3-0 for the first time since 1999, has outscored its opponents 133-10. Perry has been a major reason for the success, adding 133 rushing yards Saturday for a total of 549.
Perry wasn't the only star for Michigan, which gained 439 yards.
Steve Breaston set up the Wolverines with electrifying punt returns, Navarre went 14-for-21 for 199 yards and the offensive line received a standing ovation when it was replaced en masse with just more than five minutes left.
Willingham's West Coast offense sputtered against an aggressive defense, generating 140 yards and not making it inside Michigan's 35.
Carlyle Holiday went 5-for-14 for 55 yards with one interception, missing receivers by huge amounts before being replaced by freshman Brady Quinn.
In the first quarter Breaston fielded Nicholas Setta's 50-yard punt and returned it 55 yards to the Irish 2. Perry scored on the next play to make it 7-0.
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