By Steve Kornacki
Each day leading up to Saturday's (Sept. 6) Michigan-Notre Dame showdown in South Bend, Ind., MGoBlue.com will count down U-M's most memorable wins in the historic rivalry. The 1994 matchup, where placekicker Remy Hamilton connected on a 42-yard game-winner to give Michigan a dramatic 26-24 victory over the Fighting Irish, ranks as No. 4.
Date: Sept. 10, 1994
Score: Michigan 26, Notre Dame 24
Twenty years have passed since Remy Hamilton kicked the most memorable field goal Michigan has had against Notre Dame -- a 42-yard game-winner. But a week never passes without somebody bringing it up to Hamilton, who now lives with his wife, Heather, and their two young children in Allen, Texas.
Hamilton said: "People come up to me and say, 'You are the guy who made that kick against Notre Dame! And then they add, 'We love you!' Or they say, 'We hate you!' "
He said it never gets old hearing that play brought up.
"I appreciate it more now with my kids, Tate (10) and Elle (9)," said Hamilton.
He celebrated his 40th birthday on Saturday (Aug. 30) watching his Wolverines beat Appalachian State, and touring the athletic facilities with his family.
"I'm coaching kids in sports and training kickers," said Hamilton, who kicked until 2012 in the Arena Football League and also kicked briefly for the Detroit Lions in 2005. "But I didn't really have to teach my son any more than the basics. He's a natural. We were at the football building here, and he was knocking extra-points through with a college ball."
Most Memorable U-M Wins vs. ND
No. 1: Released on Saturday
No. 2: Released on Friday
No. 3: Released on Thursday
No. 4: Remy's Kick Wins It, 1994
No. 5: Leach Bests Montana, 1978
Hamilton made Michigan a 26-24 winner with his clutch kick on the game's final play at Notre Dame Stadium, but he wasn't even sure that he would kick in the game until minutes before the kickoff. Erik Lovell, who was Hamilton's road roommate, had been the starter but had struggled some.
"I didn't even know that I was playing in that game," said Hamilton. "But Erik Lovell missed an extra point at Boston College and we were told that whoever kicked better in the pre-game kick would get the call.
"I got the call, and Bobby Taylor blocked my first field goal attempt. But I made the next four (also hitting from 35 yards in between a pair of 32-yarders) and the rest is history."
Hamilton made a school-record 25 field goals on 30 attempts (83.3 percent accuracy) to become Michigan's only All-American kicker that season, and he left after 1996 with the career mark of 63 field goals. That record was surpassed in 2006, when Garrett Rivas finished with 64.
Hamilton's four field goals established a Michigan record versus Notre Dame that was matched by Jeff Del Verne in 1999 and Rivas in 2004.
"Obviously, that game meant a great deal to my confidence," Hamilton said, "and I carried it through to a year that became an All-American year."
Lovell entered 1994 as the first-stringer, and Hamilton also was behind freshman Kraig Baker. Hamilton had another scholarship offer from UCLA and was highly recruited out of Spanish River High in Boca Raton, Fla. But walk-on Peter Elezovic beat out Hamilton to start in 1992 and 1993.
He was running out of time and chances. But the hard work Hamilton put in with his parents, Dianne and Harry, who shagged all those balls the summer before at Spanish River or nearby Patch Reef Park, paid off. Remy kicked between 50 and 75 attempts daily.
daughter Elle and son Tate.
"And the last one was always long, from 51, 54 and 56 yards" Dianne told me for a Detroit Free Press story after that Notre Dame game. "I would shout, 'This one's for Notre Dame!' And he always hit it."
It was a great practice in visualization, but the game-winner still almost never happened.
Ron Powlus hit Derrick Mayes on a 7-yard touchdown pass to put the Irish ahead, 24-23, with less than one minute remaining. But with 46 seconds left, Todd Collins, who would become a long-time NFL quarterback, drove the Wolverines into field-goal range with a clutch 26-yard pass to tight end Jay Riemersma and a pair of 9-yard completions to gritty receiver Walter Smith.
"I was really bummed when Notre Dame went ahead," Hamilton said, "but I went looking for the kicking net to get ready. I knew Todd could get us close enough. But I couldn't find the net! I went up to Big Jonny (long-time equipment manger Jon Falk) and said, 'Where's the net?' It was packed up, and so I just did my stretching and got ready the best I could.
"An 8-yard pass from Todd to Seth Smith turned a 50-yard attempt into 42, and there was enough time for me. Notre Dame called a timeout, and Coach (Gary) Moeller was looking at me, kind of worried. I said, 'Coach, don't worry. I got this for you.'
"And when I hit it, I knew it was good."
Tate and Elle smiled while listening to their father tell a story that never gets old -- especially for Michigan fans.
No. 4 Most Memorable Notre Dame Win, 1989: Raghib "Rocket" Ismail returns kickoffs for 89- and 92-yard touchdowns on a slick, rainy field for a 24-19 win by the Irish, who attempted only two passes.