SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It was quite the rewarding Saturday for Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.
The fourth-year Irish coach earned his 200th career victory in a 28-6 season-opening decision over Temple at Notre Dame Stadium. And after the game the university announced a five-year contract extension that would keep Kelly in South Bend through 2017.
But Kelly wasn't the only one with a big day.
Tommy Rees returned as Irish starting quarterback and threw three touchdown passes and went 16-for-23 for a career-high 346 yards. His top target -- wide receiver TJ Jones -- hauled in six catches for a career-best 138 yards.
Rees, a 2011 starter and backup to Everett Golson last year, topped his previous high-water mark of 334 yards set in 2010 against Tulsa.
"I've learned a lot in my three years previous and all that adds to the confidence and I have all the confidence in my teammates," Rees said. "I never doubted the fact that we could drive the ball down the field and make some deep throws for us ... Good job by the receivers and (I) put the ball where it needed to be."
No. 14 Notre Dame's defense, meanwhile, allowed 362 net yards but tended to bend but not break against Temple.
"Our defense does not surrender big plays, keeps the points down and really makes (an opponent) work to sustain drives and to get it into the end zone," Kelly said. "You could see in the second half how difficult it is to play mistake-free, flawless, play-in and play-out. It's very difficult to do. We're suffocating in that sense defensively."
Linebacker Dan Fox led with 10 tackles, Carlo Calabrese had nine and Jarrett Grace added seven.
Notre Dame ignited early, taking just three plays to score as Rees connected with DaVaris Daniels on a 32-yard pass -- his first career TD reception. The 77-yard, 86-second drive included Amir Carlisle's 45-yard run on his first Irish carry.
Notre Dame's second possession took all of 61 seconds. Rees and Jones combined on a 51-yard pass to the Owls' 36. Two plays later, Rees found Daniels on another 32-yard TD strike and a 14-0 lead at the 10:19 mark.
"I think today we showed our ability to move the ball downfield the way we want to and the manner that we want to since Coach Kelly's been here," Jones said. "There's definitely things we need to work on, but we definitely had a glimpse of where our offense can go."
After two short-lived drives, Temple (0-1) moved deep into Irish territory in the closing minutes of the opening quarter before stalling at the Notre Dame 15. Jim Cooper's field goal from the 32 went wide.
Irish lineman Stephon Tuitt sacked Temple quarterback Connor Reilly to stop a second-quarter drive and Cooper, a true freshman, missed on a 43-yard field goal try with 6:27 left.
"Obviously you want to get the best start possible," Cooper said. "It's a bad game, it happens. But the coaches are being really supportive and the seniors are really getting me through it."
The Owls broke through on a 1-yard Kenny Harper run with 1:01 left in the half, completing a nine-play, 78-yard drive that included two Irish defensive penalties. Cooper's extra-point try was blocked.
Notre Dame replied as Rees combined with Troy Niklas on 66-yard touchdown play for a 21-6 lead with 43 seconds showing. The pass and reception were career records for both players.
"We spotted them two touchdowns early before that gimme right before the half," first-year Temple coach Matt Rhule said. "But I told our team that I was proud of them. They didn't quit at the end and I thought for long portions of the game they proved they could play with that team."
Reilly opened the second half with another drive inside the Irish 10, but pressure from linebacker Prince Shembo forced a hurried fourth-down end zone pass to tight end Chris Boyer.
Notre Dame made it 28-6 late in third quarter on George Atkinson III's 2-yard TD run, capping a seven-play, 94-yard drive.
Daniels had three receptions for 69 yards and two TDs. Carlisle rushed seven times for 68 yards while Cam McDaniel carried 12 times for 65 yards.
Reilly was 23 of 46 for 228 yards, with Ryan Alderman his top target with four catches for 65 yards. Reilly also rushed 12 times for 65 yards.
Being able to handle Temple allowed Notre Dame to keep some of its plays under wraps heading next week into Michigan.
"We didn't show a lot of our stuff today, which was our intention," Kelly said. "We're happy that we didn't have to put our entire game plan out there for everybody to see. So that was a pretty good deal."
NOTES: Temple was the 71st different team to visit Notre Dame Stadium since it opened in 1930. The Irish are 58-12-1 against first-time opponents at home. ... The victory was the 200th of Kelly's collegiate career. He's 62-17 in four seasons at Notre Dame and 3-1 in Irish season openers. ... The Owls will play the Irish twice more, including a 2015 date in Philadelphia and a return to South Bend in 2017. ... Temple has had three conference affiliations in the last three seasons, including the Mid-American (2011), Big East (2012) and now the new American Athletic Conference. ... The Owls host Houston next Saturday while the Irish travel to No. 17 Michigan.