ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It may be awhile before Michigan gets another shot to play Notre Dame at the Big House, so forgive the Wolverines if they made the most of this one Saturday night.
With the series scheduled for one more game, next season in South Bend, No. 17 Michigan piled up big numbers in a 41-30 win over the No. 14 Fighting Irish before an NCAA-record crowd of 115,109 at Michigan Stadium.
Quarterback Devin Gardner, debuting a No. 98 jersey in tribute to Michigan legend Tom Harmon, had 294 passing yards and four touchdown passes, and 82 yards rushing on 13 carries and a touchdown. Three of his TD passes went to Apopka's Jeremy Gallon, including a wild 61-yarder that pinballed off Notre Dame defenders to make the score 10-0 in the first quarter.
Michigan's defense stepped up in the fourth quarter. Trailing 34-20, Notre Dame had third and 2 at the Michigan 15-yard line and was dropped for a 2-yard loss. Opting to go for it on fourth and 4, the Fighting Irish saw quarterback Tommy Rees' pass go incomplete in the end zone.
Then Notre Dame's defense did one better on the next series. It forced Gardner to scramble from his 16 back into the end zone, and as he threw a pass to try to avoid a safety, defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt intercepted in the end zone for a touchdown.
A Notre Dame field goal with 9:15 left cut the Michigan lead to 34-30, but on Michigan's next series, Gardner put together a 75-yard drive, aided by two Notre Dame pass interference calls on third down in the red zone. He connected with Drew Dileo for a 4-yard score with 4:18 left to make it an 11-point lead.
Notre Dame drove the length of the field trying to rally, but with 1:29 left, a Rees pass caromed off a player's foot and into the hands of Blake Countess, who got his second interception of the night.
Gallon, a senior, has four touchdown receptions in Michigan's first two games after getting no more than four touchdowns in any of his first three seasons in Ann Arbor.
The attendance broke the NCAA record that had been set the last time Notre Dame came to town, drawing an announced 114,804 in 2011.