ANN ARBOR, MICH. (AP) - Brady Hoke led Michigan to one of its greatest victories in a storied history that spans 132 years _ and includes a series against Notre Dame that dates to 1887.
Denard Robinson threw two touchdown passes in the last 1:12, including the winner against the Fighting Irish with 2 seconds left, in a game tough to top for entertainment.
The Wolverines’ 35-31 victory was filled with a slew of miscues in front of an NCAA-record, pompom pumping crowd of 114,804 and a national TV audience. But the first prime-time game at the Big House that generated a lot of hype didn’t disappoint anyone not rooting for Notre Dame.
Hoke got out of the stadium around 1:30 a.m. and went to sleep about two hours later. That left him little time to enjoy the win.
“Not really because we have a lot of work to do,” he said Sunday. “We have higher expectations. To build a team that can win the Big Ten championship, we have a lot of things to fix.
“Obviously, it was a passionate night with great support from the Michigan faithful that created a great atmosphere.”
Hoke refused to give into the buzz that left tens of thousands of fans in their seats long after the final second ticked off the clock just before midnight under a full moon.
“We’re a long way away,” Hoke said after getting off to a 2-0 start in charge of college football’s winningest team. “You’re going to get sick of me saying that, but we are. The expectation for this program is way too high for us to think we’re where we need to be.”
The Wolverines stayed out of The Associated Press poll Sunday, leading the unranked teams receiving votes, heading into Saturday’s home game against Eastern Michigan (2-0) and former Michigan assistant Ron English.
Brian Kelly, meanwhile, is 0-2 in the second year with a program that ranks No. 2 in winning percentage after starting the season ranked No. 16 and high hopes. Notre Dame hosts Michigan State (2-0) on Saturday.
“My mind _ you don’t want to know what’s in it,” Kelly said in his postgame news conference. “It’s always thinking about every situation. … I’m always thinking about the next situation, talking about making a stop. Thirty seconds, I wasn’t feeling comfortable.”
After going ahead 31-28 on Tommy Rees’ second TD pass to Theo Riddick with a half-minute remaining, Notre Dame inexplicably left Jeremy Gallon wide open for a 64-yard reception on the second snap of the final drive to let the Wolverines get in position to win.
Robinson lofted the ball into the end zone one play later _ after Hoke went for the win instead of attempting a field goal to force overtime _ and Roy Roundtree leaped to snag it to make Michigan Stadium perhaps as loud as it has ever been.
“Every time you see this University of Michigan team, you’re going to see a team that plays together and keeps fighting until there’s zeros on the clock,” Robinson said after a jaw-dropping, head-shaking 446-yards, five-score, three-interception performance.
Desmond Howard still couldn’t believe what he just saw.
Howard was honored as the first “Michigan Football Legend,” _ one of the many festivities planned in a heavily choreographed night _ and the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner was still in awe the next day.
“It does not get any better than that,” Howard said Sunday. “You won’t see anything like that again.”
The Irish ruined their chances to pull away from Michigan _ when they led 14-0 after a quarter and by 17 entering the fourth _ because Rees threw three interceptions and fumbled once, and Cierre Wood contributed to them turning the ball over five times for the second straight week.
Notre Dame had its way with the Wolverines on the ground, through the air and on defense for much of the game.
When the game was on the line, the Irish couldn’t stop Robinson and his receivers, who bailed out their quarterback by leaping to catch up-for-grab lobs.
The sensational athlete with a knack for making plays overcame his largely lackluster performance from the first three quarters.
“We played as a team,” Robinson said. “It’s not just me.”
Robinson probably will get a chance to play another game in prime time at home next season as a senior because the first game under the lights in Ann Arbor didn’t lead to a spike in problems.
“We’re going to have another night game in the future,” athletic director Dave Brandon said Sunday night. “It was a rousing success in terms of the way our fans embraced the opportunity and the fact that the number of shenanigans was at a normal level.”
There were 14 arrests, mostly for disorderly conduct, seven citations, including four for bringing alcohol into the stadium, and 20 people were ejected from the stadium, according to Diane Brown of the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety. The spokeswoman said the total of arrests, citations and ejections was in line with a game that started at 3:30 p.m. EDT, adding one fan went into cardiac arrest and was hospitalized in critical condition.
On the other side of the country, former Michigan assistant coach Jack Harbaugh watched the game with his son, Jim, the former Wolverines QB and San Francisco 49ers coach, who potentially could’ve replace Rich Rodriguez instead of Hoke in January.
“That may be the greatest football game that I’ve ever witnessed,” Harbaugh said Sunday before the Seattle-San Francisco game. “What a minute and 30 seconds. And the poise of Brady Hoke, unknown to mankind. There were 110,000 people screaming, back and forth we go, and this guy stands there and … well he did have a drop of sweat on his brow.”
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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