SOUTH BEND, Ind. — No. 18 Michigan ran out of last-minute rallies against No. 11 Notre Dame.
Denard Robinson, who had amassed 948 yards total offense the past two seasons in rallying the Wolverines to victories over the Fighting Irish, threw four interceptions and lost a fumble as Michigan was held out of the end zone by Notre Dame in a 13-6 loss Saturday night.
The Irish (4-0) are off to their best start since 2002 and took another step in trying to re-establish themselves as a power.
It was a setback for Michigan (2-2), which had six turnovers and lost its eighth straight road game against ranked teams since beating second-ranked Notre Dame 47-21 in 2006.
Robinson blamed himself for the loss Saturday, calling it the worst game of his career.
"I want to say sorry to everyone who watches Michigan football and follows Michigan football," Robinson said. "It won't happen no more. I'm going to be accountable for the rest of the season. I don't want to feel like this no more. In the 22 years I've been living, this is the most disappointed I've ever been in myself."
Robinson finished the game 13-of-24 passing for 138 yards and also rushed for 90 yards on 26 carries. But he threw four interceptions.
Robinson said he didn't react well to Notre Dame's pressure.
"I'm not throwing with confidence. When I have pressure in my face I'm supposed to make a move and take a sack sometimes. Don't force it," he said.
Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree, who caught the game-winning touchdown from Robinson last season, said Notre Dame did a good job of confusing the Wolverines.
"The defense came at us from all different ways. We tried to tell him, like, they're playing this kind of coverage. But they mixed it up a lot, so you have to give credit to Notre Dame. Some of the routes we had minor confusion on, some of the younger guys in there, but we'll learn from that. Thank God we have a bye week to get ready for Purdue."
Running back Vincent Smith also threw an interception in the end zone. Michigan coach Brady Hoke defended the call.
"If we get behind the guy and throw the ball a little bit deeper, it's a pretty good play call," he said.
The loss ended a streak of three straight games in which Michigan beat the Irish with a score in the final 27 seconds.
Michigan never had a chance at a comeback because Notre Dame held on to the ball for the final 3:27. Tommy Rees, who came in for an ineffective Everett Golson midway through the second quarter, connected with Tyler Eifert on a 38-yard pass down the sideline on a key third down.
Then an 8-yard run by Theo Riddick on third-and-8 with a minute left sealed the win for Notre Dame.
Hoke said Michigan's defense, which intercepted Golson twice, kept the Wolverines in the game and he was pleased with the progress the offensive line showed as the Wolverines rushed for 161 yards. But he said the Wolverines didn't execute well enough overall.
"When you're in positions to make plays, you have to make plays. You have to execute," he said.
The victory belonged to the Irish defenders, who held an opponent without a touchdown for a second straight week. Many fans at just the second night game in 22 years at Notre Dame Stadium wore leis to show support for Te'o, a Hawaiian whose girlfriend and grandmother recently died. He finished with eight tackles.
"I can't thank the students and just the fan base around the world, Notre Dame and non-Notre Dame fans. They've been really great," Te'o said.Comment on this story
Te'o said the key was stopping Robinson.
"The key to stopping Robinson, the key to stopping such a dynamic player like Denard is everybody has to get to him," Te'o said. "Denard will start running one way and then totally cut back the other way. Everybody has to get to the ball. You have to really emphasize 11 guys to the ball."
Te'o said it felt great to finally beat Michigan and Robinson.
"He's gotten me the past two years and Michigan has gotten me three years total. I am just glad on my last hurrah I finally have something to celebrate about," he said.