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Notre Dame pulls away from Central Michigan in programs’ first meeting

SOUTH BEND, Ind-- For the first time on Saturday, Notre Dame and Central Michigan met as football opponents. The Fighting Irish would top the Chippewas 41-17, but the final score certainly doesn’t tell the full story of the game.


On Wednesday, the Chippewas squad was informed that typical starting QB Bert Emanuel Jr. would miss the road trip to South Bend due to illness, leaving the offensive reins to redshirt sophomore QB Jase Bauer.


This would be Bauer’s first start of the season. Previously, he had seen action in the final quarter of the Chippewas’ season opener against Michigan State, and one snap during their home opener against New Hampshire.

“Every week I prepare like I’m one play away from going in,” Bauer said. “You never know when you’ll get your shot.”

In the first half...

The Chippewas would prove that Notre Dame isn’t the only team that is “All Fight.”


Central Michigan trailed just 21-14 at halftime after running back Myles Bailey and Bauer rushed for touchdowns. In the first half for Notre Dame, Tobias Merriweather, Audric Estimé, and Chris Tyree found the endzone.

At the half, the Irish totaled 290 yards to CMU’s 160, with just 11 first downs to CMU’s 10. The Chippewas led time of possession with 15:58 to Notre Dame’s 14:02.

“In terms of today, I think no one’s going to be happy letting up points, especially how we did in the first half,” Notre Dame Defensive Lineman Rylie Mills said in his post-game press conference.

But then...


The Fighting Irish came out of the half with just that, fight. They opened the 3rd with a 74-yard drive and a touchdown from one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, Sam Hartman.

Central Michigan would be in scoring position just once more, settling for a field goal for their final 17 points.

As for Notre Dame, they’d keep rolling.

Notre Dame’s Spencer Shrader hit field goals from 50 and 31 yards out on the Irish’s next two possessions to extend their lead to 34-17.


Hartman then found Holden Staes from six yards out for the final score 41-17. The good news for the Chippewas is that the Irish’s 41 points is their fewest scored thus far in the 2023 season.

Positive takeaways...

  • The Chippewas have two viable QB options.

“I’ve said it all along, we’ve got good quarterbacks,” CMU head coach Jim McElwain said. “He handled the game and did a really good job. He’s a hell of a quarterback; we’re fortunate to have the luxury of having a couple of guys. I knew the game would not be too big for him at all. That’s just kind of his makeup. He competed his ass off.”

Bauer finished his second career start and first start of the year with a 1-yard touchdown run, 153 total yards (16 rushing, 137 passing), while completing 10 of 20 passes for 137 yards with a long of 37.

  • The run game looked really strong

Running backs Myles Bailey and Marion Lukes each had impressive showings on Saturday, so much so that they even gave the top-ranked Irish a hard time.

Bailey finished the game with a team-high 59 yards on 12 carries for a 4.9 average yards per carry. Some of those yards being on his 6-yard TD. As for Lukes, he led CMU in all-purpose yards with 96. He rushed for 56 yards on nine carries with a long of 25 yards for a 6.2 average, caught two passes for 23 yards with a long of 16, and returned a kickoff for 17 yards.

“They looked like they belonged out there,” McElwain said of his RBs.

  • Chippewas fans prove they travel well

UND and CMU’s first-ever meeting was a sellout! Central Michigan and Notre Dame played in front of 77,622 fans. That crowd ranked 9th amongst the largest crowds that the Chippewas have ever played in front of.

“I could hear them [Chippewas fans],” McElwain said of the pockets of maroon and gold scattered around Notre Dame Stadium.

  • The hardest part of the season is in the rearview mirror

Two power 5 schools down, none to go (in 2023). The Chippewas are shaping up to be a very good 1-2 team. There are already drastic differences between week 1 and 3. Now, this doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges, or even losses in the future.

Saturday, the Chippewas are on the road again, this time to South Alabama, who they lost to during their 2022 campaign, 38-24. When they return from their road trip south, MAC play will open up.

“I told Coach McElwain after the game, he’s got a really good football team that’s going to win a lot of games in the MAC,” Irish head coach Marcus Freeman said.

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