End of an era, with a thud

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There’s a point in Seinfeld when it all goes wrong for Elaine Benes. First, she loses the first meaningful relationship she’s had in a few seasons over something trivial. Then, she ends up losing her job. And her apartment. (The Opposite episode)

On Sept. 6, 2014, even that Elaine Benes laughs at Michigan.

In a harrowing end to what’s more an off-field than on-field rivalry, Notre Dame eviscerated Michigan in ways the Michigan faithful wouldn’t have stood for in the late 1800s, when they booed the team from Ann Arbor simply for letting by points.

They’d have cut the brakes on the bus had they seen this.

First off, Notre Dame. There were questions surrounding Michigan’s offensive line coming into this season, and apparently the Irish read the clippings. They absolutely wrecked the line of scrimmage on both ends all night.

Early on, in spite of treating timeouts like bird seed, the Irish established the run enough to the point where when they went play action, Michigan’s secondary played like the game was supposed to stop.

And the third downs … oh, the third downs … the Irish made hay on them, turning in 50 percent in a first half that stuck the knife in and twisted, hard … all While Michigan limped to one conversion by the third quarter.

To be frank, this isn’t more about one team and less about the other. This is a referendum on both.

Michigan was flaccid, horribly prepared, and got no push on either line. When it did, it couldn’t tackle, whereas Notre Dame could. Early in the first half, Devin Gardner — on a third down — had a clean pocket and his first read was cut off. He tucked tail and ran, tackled short of his destination. A missed field goal ensued.

At that point, you sort of knew but you didn’t just to be safe: Michigan wasn’t much different from last year on offense. Everett Golson, on the other hand, ripped passes the likes of which could pierce drywall from 50 yards away and showed the faith to step up, sling it, and deal with the results.

As this set of games between Michigan and Notre Dame ends in the same fashion as seemingly all the others … with one side bitching about the other … it didn’t fit the excitement it has normally brought.

It also sent two teams in terribly different directions … one prepared to deal with the ever-changing landscape of college football … and one perpetually stuck in quicksand.