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After Ismail's first touchdown, Michigan's troubles had apparently been compounded. While trying to scramble for a first down on third-and-eight, Taylor took a Bolcar helmet between the shoulder blades and had to be helped off the field. The 6'5" Grbac, a carpenter's son from Willoughby Hills, Ohio, who is a redshirt freshman, began warming up. "My parents are both from Yugoslavia," he explained later. "I think Elvis is a popular name there." In his first series, Grbac missed two open receivers, and Michigan had to punt. When Taylor was still not ready after Notre Dame's next possession, the Wolverines' hopes seemed finished.
Not so. It turned out that Grbac has a powerful and accurate right arm. Boom! He zinged a 19-yard rope to Greg McMurtry over the middle. Next, trying to elude a heavy rush, he sidearmed a grounder toward Bunch. Then a holding call left Michigan with a second-and-20. Grbac hung in the pocket until McMurtry found a seam in Notre Dame's zone and Grbac hit him with a perfect, 23-yard touch pass. Eight plays, and four passes, later, Grbac found Walker in the end zone. After misfiring on his first two throws, Grbac completed 17 of his next 19 for 134 yards and two touchdowns. "That kid's going to be a good quarterback," predicted Bolcar, who was responsible, in a way, for Grbac's presence on the field. "What am I saying? He is a good quarterback."
With 4:08 remaining, the now infamous Michigan kickoff team took the field. Suspicions that Schembechler would call for an onside kick were confirmed by the peculiar way Carlson placed the ball on the tee. "It was straight up and down," said Ismail. A dead giveaway.
Poor Carlson. Already in Schembechler's doghouse for the missed point after, his onside kick failed to travel the required 10 yards. It didn't go even five yards. It bounced a couple of times on the soggy rug and then stopped rolling three yards away. "That looked like one of Gerald Ford's tee shots," remarked one Michigan-based wag. The Irish took over, and that was the ball game.
"This does not ruin our season," said a subdued Schembechler, who stubbornly insisted that no mythical national championship could ever be as important to him as a Big Ten title or a Rose Bowl win. Yet his disappointment Saturday was deeply felt. Schembechler is 60 years old and has a bad heart. He has hinted he'll be out of the game before long. These Wolverines most likely represent his last chance at a national title after 27 years of coaching, first at Miami of Ohio, then at Michigan.
"Give Notre Dame credit," Schembechler said. "The Irish came up to our stadium and just beat us." He saved special praise for Rocket: "He may be the best I've seen. He is faster than the speed of sound."
Indeed, Ismail's virtuoso performance had half the people in Michigan Stadium comparing him to Tim Brown, the former return specialist for the Irish who won the 1987 Heisman and is now playing for the Los Angeles Raiders. The other half were asking, "Tim who?"