Coverage: ABC Regional coverage
3:30 PM ET, September 13, 2003
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Chris Perry hurdled defenders, broke tackles and even made a one-handed catch.
This wasn't Central Michigan or Houston. It was Notre Dame, and it wasn't supposed to be this easy.
But everything came remarkably simply for No. 5 Michigan in a 38-0 win Saturday, the most lopsided in the Wolverines' storied rivalry with the Irish.
Perry ran for three touchdowns and caught a scoring pass, running through the spacious holes cleared by Tony Pape and the offensive line. John Navarre provided steady quarterback play, and Larry Stevens and Pierre Woods caused havoc in Notre Dame's backfield, turning it into a blowout of historic proportions.
"In a way I'm shocked, in another way it's expected," Perry said. "We're on a mission."
In a rivalry known for its nailbiters -- nine of the previous 11 meetings were decided by seven points or fewer -- Michigan posted the first shutout in the series since its 23-0 win in 1902.
The biggest margin of victory in the previous 30 meetings between the two winningest teams in college football history was 23.
"They came at us in every imaginable way," Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham said. "There's nothing positive about how we played. We were outplayed, outcoached, everything."
After a fumble on their opening drive, the Wolverines controlled every aspect of the game in perhaps their best performance since winning the national title in 1997.
Michigan, which is 3-0 for the first time since 1999, has outscored its opponents 133-10 this season.
"This is one of the most complete games I've been a part of," Navarre said. "Every game is a defining game but this is one of the bigger defining ones."
Perry has been a major reason for the success, gaining 177 total yards in a performance that should make him one of the early contenders for the Heisman Trophy.
He caught four passes for 44 yards and ran 31 times for 133 more, giving him 549 yards rushing and eight total touchdowns through three games.
"It was a little surprising because they have a great defense," Perry said. "But we have a great offense."
Perry wasn't the only star for Michigan, which gained 439 yards. Steve Breaston set up the Wolverines with electrifying punt returns, Navarre went 14-for-21 for 199 yards and the offensive line received a standing ovation when it was replaced en masse with just over 5 minutes left.
Willingham's West Coast offense sputtered once again against an aggressive Wolverines defense, generating only 140 yards and not making it inside Michigan's 35 all game.
"Football games are won up front and we clearly won the game in the trenches on offense and defense," Stevens said. "I was surprised because I heard they were expecting a fight."
Other than a 20-point fourth quarter against Washington State last week, Notre Dame's offense hasn't scored a touchdown in its past four games dating to last season.
"I am disgusted at myself," Holiday said. "It's always embarrassing to lose in any way, but especially like this."
Many fans in the NCAA-record crowd of 111,726 started chanting, "Houston's better! Houston's better!" in the fourth quarter.
It was Notre Dame's worst loss since a 58-7 beating by Miami in 1985 and the worst shutout since a 40-0 game against Oklahoma in 1956.
Michigan's dominance was at its clearest during a 19-play, 80-yard drive that consumed a school-record 10:25, capped by Perry's 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
After Navarre's fumble on the third play from scrimmage, Notre Dame gained only 1 yard from Michigan's 38 before punting.
After Notre Dame's next three-and-out, Breaston fielded Nicholas Setta's 50-yard boot and burst up the middle and cut toward the sideline for a 55-yard return to the Irish 2. Perry scored on the next play to make it 7-0.
A 25-yard return by Breaston and Navarre's 21-yard pass to Carl Tabb set up Adam Finley's 24-yard field goal on the next drive to make it 10-0.
Holiday then threw an interception to Markus Curry and the Wolverines drove 81 yards for another touchdown.
Navarre became Michigan's career leader in yards passing with 6,503, breaking the mark of 6,460 set by Elvis Grbac.