ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon were like Batman and Robin, and Notre Dame was The Penguin.
Notre Dame tried — it really did — to get to Gardner. The Irish relentlessly chased down the quarterback time and time again, only for Gardner to roll away and find top receiver Gallon open down the field.
Gardner connected with Gallon eight times for 184 yards and three scores, leaving Notre Dame frustrated and mistake-prone. Gallon burned cornerback KeiVarae Russell nearly every time he touched the ball, averaging 14 yards per catch.
In the end, the quarterback-receiver tandem foiled the Irish at every turn, leading Michigan (2-0) to a 41-30 win over Notre Dame (1-1) in Ann Arbor.
Other observations from the Big House:
Ÿ It wouldn't have been a fitting Ann Arbor finale between these two teams without a dose of drama.
After failing to convert on a fourth down early in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame turned the ball over deep in Michigan territory.
Facing third and long and backpedaling into his own end zone, Gardner avoided a certain safety by dumping the ball ... into Stephon Tuitt's arms.
Tuitt rolled into the end zone and cut Michigan's lead in half, propelling a three-and-out from Michigan and a Notre Dame field goal on the ensuing drives.
Ÿ Amir Carlisle did everything George Atkinson could not do.
For all of his speed, Atkinson just does not have what it takes to be Notre Dame's power back. In attempts to use Atkinson as a hybrid receiver, the junior dropped three passes on five targets. Instead, the Irish turned to 5-10, 190-pound Carlisle, who ran hard all night and punched through on several short-yardage situations. Carlisle averaged 5.3 yards per carry on a 64-yard night.
Ÿ Notre Dame's pass interferences broke the defense's back.
Late in the fourth quarter, Bennett Jackson was hit with a less-than-obvious call and moments later, Matthias Farley was hit in the end zone. Gardner capitalized by connecting with Drew Dileo.
Earlier in the game, Russell's end zone interference set up a 2-yard dash by Gardner which made it 17-10.
Ÿ Kyle Brindza atoned for last week's sins.
Though it didn't matter much in the final score, Brindza nailed two big field goals early and one late for the Irish after missing badly in the season-opener against Temple. Brindza and placeholder Luke Massa were on the same page, and the junior kicker hit from 24, 40 and 44 yards.
In the first half, Michigan led 27-13 as both teams took turns answering the bell offensively — it was a game of “Can You Top That” and the response from both sides of the field was “Yes.”
Michigan peppered away Notre Dame's secondary with Jeremy Gallon doing a bulk of damage. His slithering, tackle-busting 61-yard touchdown propelled UM to a 10-0 first-quarter lead. Gallon also added a 12-yard scoring play just before halftime, which came four plays after Blake Countess picked off Tommy Rees.
Rees pulled the Fighting Irish off the deck early by directing an efficient 75-yard scoring drive. His 18-yard TD to TJ Jones deflected off the hands of George Atkinson III near the goal line and into the hands of Jones, who was sliding across the end zone.
Other than a few plays where Michigan pressured the senior QB, Rees had time to work the football to Jones, DaVaris Daniels and Corey Robinson.
Jones looked like an All-American while the ND running backs were relatively ineffective.
Speaking of All-Americans, Gardner, who avoided the Irish pass rush at every turn, shed his No. 12 jersey for No. 98, the number of Michigan All-American back Tom Harmon, who was honored right before kickoff. Running and throwing, Gardner was hard to corral for ND.