The rankings will record this as an upset. Notre Dame defeated Michigan, 23-17, tonight before a sellout crowd of 59,075 at Notre Dame Stadium and a national-television audience in the first night game ever played in the land of Rockne.
Yet on this night when Michigan -- ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press poll -- had its running game clotted at 41 yards and when Notre Dame -- ranked No. 20 -- had its senior kicker Mike Johnston make his first three collegiate field goals, it was a different kind of upset that made the difference.
It was upset that came in the form of Irish anger, anger over last year's 5-6 record in Coach Gerry Faust's first year, anger over last year's 25-7 loss to Michigan.
So even when Michigan rallied from a 23-7 fourth-quarter deficit to 23-17 with 7:38 left, the Irish anger would not be overcome.
Michigan achieved this comeback with a 42-yard field goal by Ali Haji-Sheikh with 13 minutes left, making it 23-10, and a 39-yard touchdown pass from Steve Smith to Rick Rogers that made it 23-17.
But with 4:38 left to play, Michigan set sail from its 20 for a possible game-winning drive. In slightly more than two minutes, Michigan drove to the Notre Dame 35.
Then Irish senior safety Dave Duerson intercepted Steve Smith's pass intended for Vincent Bean, after a tug-of-war grabbing with Bean, on the Notre Dame 30 with 2:14 left. "It got into my hands first," Duerson said. "He started pulling, but I wasn't going to let go."
Neither would Faust let go of this victory or his players when it was over. "We overcame a lot of bad breaks and had a lot going against us . . . It's a great win, especially after last year and we will use this as a stepping stone to bigger and better things."
Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler did not appear at the postgame press conference and closed the locker room doors to the press. Such defeats can do such things to the man, whose team slipped to 1-1 with this defeat.
Much later, Schembechler agreed to come out and said: "I didn't recognize that (Michigan) team out there. The offensive line got whipped. They simply played terrible. The defensive line didn't tackle well. We just made too many mistakes."
Notre Dame tight end Tony Hunter, who caught seven passes for 76 yards, said of the Irish anger: "Last year at the end of the game against Michigan, one of Michigan's defensive backs ran over to me and said, 'Not this year.' I remembered that and I thought about it a lot tonight. We wanted to win this for Coach Faust. I'll tell you, this game shouldn't have been as close as it was."
Duerson added: "We were thinking about last year. We will never forget it."
Notre Dame took a 13-0 halftime lead. "We knew we needed all the points we could get," said quarterback Blair Kiel, who completed 15 of 22 for 141 yards.
With the retrospect of rally, Kiel was right. Johnston's 35-yard field goal was the only scoring in the first quarter and fullback Larry Moriarity, who gained 116 yards on 16 carries tonight, ran 24 yards for the touchdown that made it Notre Dame, 10-0, with 14:01 left in the half.
"When I got into the end zone I just said, 'Lord, please let their be no flags," said Moriarity, who got his wish.
After Irish running back Greg Bell fumbled on the Michigan one-yard line midway through the second quarter, killing off the chance for the Notre Dame lead to swell to 17-0, Kiel quickly, confidently drove the Irish to Johnston's 37-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half. It was 13-0.
Then in one third-quarter moment -- that is all it takes Michigan's Anthony Carter to return a punt 72 yards for a touchdown -- it seemed Michigan had returned from its first-half grogginess.
Carter, Michigan's designated game-breaker, received Kiel's punt at the Michigan 28, broke past would-be Notre Dame tacklers Joe Johnson and Tom Murphy -- who tackled themselves at the Michigan 35 -- and he was gone.
It closed the score to 13-7 with 13-10 left in the third quarter and made things very interesting.
Until Notre Dame scored 10 more third-quarter points on lengthy, time-consuming drives. Johnston added his third field goal, a 41-yarder with 7:22 left. "I was very nervous," said the senior, whose longest previous field goal was a 33-yarder in high school. "But Harry Oliver (former Notre Dame kicking star) was on the sidelines and he helped me relax."
When Bell, the man who had fumbled on the one-yard line in the first half, ran 10 yards for the touchdown that made it 23-7 with 1:55 left in the third quarter, it seemed things were Irish order.
Then came the 10-point fourth-quarter Michigan rally. Then, came the Duerson interception.
It left Michigan's Carter saying: "Things went wrong from the start. I pulled my groin and I don't know when I'm going to come back."
It left the Notre Dame zealots swarming the field, shouting "Gerry! Gerry! Gerry!"
And it left Notre Dame 1-0 under the lights and in 1982.