Notre Dame's final trip to the Big House, for now, anyway, ended with a loss.
Behind four touchdown passes from Devin Gardner and another on the ground, Michigan beat Notre Dame 41-30, and judging by all of the celebrating afterwards, did its best to justify coach Brady Hoke's words that the games between the schools were a national rivalry.
Michigan said the announced attendance at the game was 115,109, a football attendance record. The game it eclipsed? Notre Dame's 2011 visit to Ann Arbor which brought 114,804 to Michigan Stadium.
Wearing the No. 98 in honor of Tom Harmon, Michigan's first Heisman Trophy winner, Gardner threw for 294 yards and ran for 82 more in addition to the four scores.
"We think he’s a pretty good quarterback and we like what he does for our team," Hoke said after the game. "Obviously we got one little play in there we gotta clean up, but he did a nice job for us."
On Friday, Hoke said that reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel would be behind Gardner on the depth chart. And save for that "one little play" that Hoke mentioned, Gardner looked the part of a Heisman contender.
Though that play wasn't so little. Early in the fourth quarter on 3rd and 11 at the Michigan 16, Gardner retreated to the end zone and threw the ball up as he was being taken down and it was intercepted by Stephon Tuitt to bring the Irish within seven points.
However, two drives later after Notre Dame got within 34-30, Michigan marched down the field (with assists from two Notre Dame pass interference penalties) for the final score when Gardner found Drew Dileo cutting into the end zone for a four yard touchdown with 4:18 to go.
Notre Dame immediately drove down the field, but Tommy Rees' pass across the middle in the end zone ricocheted off Raymon Taylor's knee and popped high into the air and Blake Countess snatched it for the interception.
Rees finished 29-51 for 314 yards passing and two touchdowns and two interceptions.
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