ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Devin Gardner lived up to that number on his jersey Saturday night.
Wearing No. 98 to honor Michigan greatest Tom Harmon, Gardner threw four touchdown passes and ran for a score to lead the 17th-ranked Wolverines to a 41-30 win over No. 14 Notre Dame in front of an NCAA-record crowd of 115,109.
Gardner sealed the victory with a 4-yard TD pass to Drew Dileo with 4:18 left and ran for 14 yards to convert the final third down in the final seconds to set off a celebration at the Big House.
The Wolverines (2-0) had a pair of 14-point leads, but the Fighting Irish (1-1) refused to be routed.
Notre Dame pulled within a TD early in the fourth quarter when defensive end Stephon Tuitt made a diving interception in the end zone – a few snaps after the Irish turned the ball over on downs – on a pass Gardner was trying to throw away.
“I made a horrible decision,” Gardner said. “But the defense told me they believed in me and I finished it.”
Kyle Brindza made a 40-yard field goal with 9:15 left to pull Notre Dame within four points.
The Irish were called for pass interference twice – once on a questionable call when Bennett Jackson intercepted Gardner’s pass deep in Notre Dame territory – on the ensuing drive and Gardner later took advantage by accounting for a fifth TD.
Tommy Rees threw a second pick with 1:29 left.
Michigan has won four straight at home against the Irish.
That winning streak will stand for a while because the two storied programs won’t play at the Big House again anytime soon. Notre Dame opted out of its contract with the Wolverines, making next year’s game in South Bend, Ind., the last guaranteed matchup in a series that dates to 1887.
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