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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Turnovers doomed Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish lost the ball five times for the second straight week, letting Michigan beat them 35-31 Saturday night on Denard Robinson’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree with 2 seconds left.
“You can’t have turnovers. Period,” Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees said. “You have to eliminate them.”
Rees threw three interceptions and fumbled deep in Michigan territory while attempting a pass.
The Irish had five turnovers in a season-opening 23-20 loss to South Florida at home, where Rees almost helped them come back from a 16-0 deficit.
This time, the turnovers — one of which happened when running back Cierre Wood ran into teammates — wasted leads of 14-0 and 24-7.
“It’s devastating,” Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd said. “It’s hard to take this one in. It’s distressing.”
The Irish shut down Denard Robinson early in the game but couldn’t slow him down when it mattered.
Michigan took its first lead on Robinson’s 21-yard pass to Vincent Smith with 1:12 left, then lost it.
Rees threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick with 30 seconds left, but the Fighting Irish left Jeremy Gallon wide open on a pass that let Michigan go from its 20 to the Notre Dame 16.
The Wolverines (2-0) have won three straight against the rival Irish (0-2) on late-game plays by their quarterbacks. Last year at Notre Dame, Robinson ran for a touchdown with 27 seconds left. Two years ago, Tate Forcier threw a TD pass with 11 seconds left.
The Wolverines have won three straight over Notre Dame for the first time since 1908. The first night game at Michigan Stadium lived up to the hype.
Robinson didn’t match his game last year against Notre Dame, when he had a school-record 502 total yards, but Notre Dame couldn’t stop him when it mattered.
He was 11 of 24 for 338 yards with four TDs and three interceptions and ran 11 times for 108 yards and a score.
That one came on a fortunate bounce, when he scooped up Stephen Hopkins’ fumble inside the Notre Dame 1 and trotted in. Junior Hemingway, wearing a new patch on his No. 21 jersey in honor of 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard, caught three passes for 165 yards and a TD.
In his first loss in five starts, Rees was 27 of 39 for 315 yards with three TDs. Wood ran for 134 yards and a score on 25 carries.
Floyd caught 13 passes for 159 yards, becoming Notre Dame’s career leader in yards receiving, and matched a school record with his 15th 100-yard receiving game.
Michigan and Notre Dame, two of college football’s storied programs, met for the first time under the lights at the Big House.
The Wolverines shined.
The Fighting Irish wilted much to the delight of the NCAA-record crowd of 114,804 pom-pom pumping fans in the stands.
“I just feel really bad for them right now because they’re playing really hard,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “They can be a good football team — they’re not one right now, because of the mistakes we’re making — but they just have to stay together, and they will.”
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