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September 16, 2006

UM-ND notes: Manningham has night to remember

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The College Football Wire

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. Mario Manningham may not have a cool nickname to describe his style of play, but the Michigan wide receiver spent Saturday afternoon attacking Notre Dame's secondary with the ferocity of a shark.

Manningham caught three first-half touchdown passes and finished with four receptions for 137 yards in Michigan's 47-21 upset of Notre Dame. The sophomore standout finished with more receiving yardage than the combined total of Notre Dame starting wideouts Jeff "Shark" Samardzija and Rhema McKnight.

"The sky's the limit for him," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.

Manningham had followed up an excellent freshman season by catching just five passes for 71 yards in the Wolverines' first two games this fall.

According to Wolverines quarterback Chad Henne, that was all part of the plan.

"We really wanted to establish the running game the first two games," Henne said. "We really didn't need to throw the ball deep because they were playing deep coverage. They gave us the shots today, and we definitely took care of them."

The first shot came with 3:53 remaining in the first quarter. Michigan had just recorded the initial first down of the game when Henne threw deep to Manningham, who already was 5 yards past Ambrose Wooden down the right sideline.

Manningham caught the pass at the Notre Dame 28 and waltzed into the end zone.

"I did a little pump and he drove to the ball," Manningham said, "so I just turned up."

Manningham later beat Terrail Lambert for a 20-yard touchdown, then got past Lambert and safety Tom Zbikowski for a 22-yard score. He became the first Notre Dame opponent to catch three touchdown passes in a game since Texas tight end Pat Fitzgerald did it in 1995.

The presence of Steve Breaston in the receiving corps and Mike Hart in the backfield prevented the Irish from double-covering Manningham. The Wolverines took advantage throughout the first half.

"We knew they were going to play us man because of Mike in the backfield," Manningham said. "We knew they were going to pack the box in."

It takes more than one man to stop Manningham. It apparently takes a whole band.

After his final touchdown, Manningham went into the corner of the stands to celebrate with the Michigan band. Manningham hurt his wrist in the process, though he returned to the game and caught one more pass.

"I just fell on it a little bit," Manningham said. "It was nothing big."

FINALLY: Carr won at Notre Dame for the first time after losing road games against the Irish in 1998, 2002 and 2004. Carr didn't bother hiding his relief.

"As a coach, when you can win against a rival like that, believe me, it's special because it's hard," Carr said. "I mean, the credit sure the hell doesn't go to me. Those guys out on the field, they played the game."

Michigan last won at Notre Dame in 1994, when Remy Hamilton's 42-yard field goal gave the Wolverines a 26-24 victory.

PRICE IS RIGHT: The one Notre Dame player who stood tall on an otherwise dismal day was punter Geoff Price.

Then again, he had plenty of practice.

Price averaged 51.9 yards on seven punts and sent two of them inside Michigan's 20. He even assisted on a tackle during one of Breaston's punt returns.

The performance continued a stellar September for Price, who is averaging 49.8 yards per attempt this season.

HART'S HUNDRED: After carrying the ball a combined total of eight times against Notre Dame the last two years, Hart made up for lost time Saturday.

Hart gained 124 yards on 31 carries to lead all rushers. Hart compiled only 4 yards on three carries in last year's 17-10 loss to Notre Dame before a first-quarter hit from linebacker Corey Mays knocked him out of the game.

Michigan now owns a 12-1 record when Hart rushes for at least 100 yards.

"I was telling people all week we were going to come down here and win," Hart said.

Notre Dame's Darius Walker had rushed for at least 100 yards against Michigan each of the last two years, but he gained only 25 yards on 10 attempts this time. That represented the second-lowest career total for Walker, who gained 17 yards on seven carries against Brigham Young last year.

ETC.: Michigan ended a six-game losing streak in road openers. Breaston became the Big Ten's all-time leading career punt returner with his 17-yard scamper in the third quarter. Notre Dame legend Johnny Lujack, the 1947 Heisman Trophy winner, conducted the pregame coin flip. Michigan's 34 first-half points were the most allowed by Notre Dame in an opening half since Michigan State scored 42 in 1998. Michigan was the seventh visiting team ever to score 40 points at Notre Dame Stadium. The five Notre Dame turnovers were the most the Irish had committed since a 2002 loss to Boston College.

For more coverage of the Michigan Wolverines visit TheWolverine.com; for more coverage on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, visit IrishIllustrated.com.

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