Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon (21) pulls away from Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson for a touchdown during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Updated: October 10, 2013 6:23AM
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Notre Dame won’t miss playing at the Big House.
Quarterback Devin Gardner and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon carved up Notre Dame’s defense on the way to a 41-30 Michigan victory in front of the largest crowd to ever watch a college football game, 115,109 fans, Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
“Overall, we want to be smarter and more disciplined,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “I’m not going to get into specifics, but I want my football teams to play smarter and more disciplined.”
Gallon finished with eight catches for 184 yards and three touchdowns. Gardner was had 294 passing yards and four touchdowns.
“Obviously Devin Gardner played outstanding,” Kelly said. “They were the better football team today.”
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees had 314 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss.
“I felt that we missed some opportunities offensively that could have given us the opportunity to win this football game,” Kelly said. “… I felt like we had two opportunities to score. We’ve got to make those plays. This was one of those games where our offense needed to carry the day for us. We just came up short on a couple of key plays for us. One of those games we’ve got to win and we weren’t able to come up with some key plays offensively.”
Said Rees: “I’ve got to do better, give our team a better chance to win the game. I’ve take full accountability for it.”
The contest marked Notre Dame’s last scheduled trip to Michigan for the foreseeable future. It ended like so many of the recent trips to Ann Arbor, with a Michigan victory. The No. 17 Wolverines (2-0) have won seven of the last eight against the No. 14 Irish (1-1) at Michigan Stadium.
Some of those games went down to the wire.
Saturday was no different.
Michigan led by 14 points early in the fourth quarter when Gardner was hit while trying to throw an ill-advised pass out of his end zone. The ball didn’t get out of the end zone. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt caught it for an interception and a touchdown, pulling the Irish within 34-27 with 12:06 remaining. A Kyle Brindza field goal made it 34-30 with 9:15 to go.
Michigan faced a pair of third downs in its next possession. Both times, Notre Dame got called for pass interference to extend the drive. Gardner threw a 4-yard touchdown to Drew Dileo. Blake Countess picked off Rees in the end zone with 1:29 to essentially end the game.
“We hold ourselves to a higher standard than what we went out there and played with today,” linebacker Dan Fox said.
It was all Michigan early. The Wolverines opened up a 10-0 lead when Gallon caught a pass over the middle and avoided at least four would-be tacklers on the way to a 61-yard touchdown.
Notre Dame rallied. First, Rees threw a pass in the end zone that went off the hands of running back George Atkinson III and right to wide receiver TJ Jones for a touchdown. Then, Brindza connected on a 44-yard field goal.