The junior target recorded a career-high in yardage (167), receptions (8) and matched his high for touchdowns set earlier this season (2) including a game-changing 82-yarder with just under 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Daniels previously scored on a third-down corner route from nine yards out. Both times his pay dirt deposits tied the score for head coach Brian Kelly's visiting Irish.
"We got on him pretty good in the first half," said Kelly of Daniels' sloppy first half that included a drop and participation penalty. "He stepped up his game big time in the second half. Played more physical. The first touchdown, he had a ball he had to take away from the defender. Then the second, the run after the catch was just phenomenal."
Daniels has 23 receptions for 414 yards and four touchdowns over his last four contests dating back to the BCS National Championship.
Offensive Game Balls: Junior running back Cam McDaniel played the role of closer, carrying on 10 of Notre Dame's final 11 snaps, accruing 42 yards and hammering through scrimmage for a pair of third-and-short conversions.
"I know that we have the best offensive line in the nation. My job's pretty easy, I just have to hold onto the football and run behind those guys," McDaniel said.
McDaniel took four stitches to the head early in the contest but finished with a team-high 56 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown that tied the score at 10 early in the third quarter.
He added a reception that on the stat sheet shows a three-yard loss. The relevance of the play was that McDaniel wrestled a sure interception away from a Purdue defender, on the Notre Dame side of midfield.
Senior quarterback Tommy Rees received the official Golden Ball from Kelly post-game.
"The game ball for us went to Tommy Rees. In the second half, we thought he really settled down and ran our offense. Managed it extremely well. Made some big plays for us. Made the throws when we needed to."
Rees hit on 20 of 33 passes for 309 yards and two scores, both to Daniels. It was the second time in five tries the Irish won with Rees throwing for more than 300 yards in a contest, both this season.
The stat sheet won't show it, but boundary defensive end Sheldon Day will doubtless grade out as Notre Dame's most consistent player Saturday. The Indianapolis sophomore applied consistent pocket pressure in the second half, finishing with two unofficial hurries, a tackle for loss, and four stops after intermission.
Defensive Game Balls: Junior Mike linebacker Jarrett Grace led the squad with 10 tackles and added a pass defensed, playing the lion's share of second half snaps inside with 5th-year seniors Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox rotating next to him at Will linebacker. No other Irish player recorded more than four stops.
Cornerback Bennett Jackson registered four tackles and a sack, but it was the senior captain's 34-yard interception return for a touchdown that broke the game open early in the fourth quarter.
Special Teams MVP: George Atkinson Produced his best return efforts since midway through his freshman season, logging run backs of 24, 47, and 34 yards on the evening.
Just the Facts
- After not allowing more than two touchdowns in 26 of 32 contests, the Irish defense has yielded eight (5 and 3) in back-to-back outings…
- Notre Dame's defense has allowed nine touchdowns in three games this year, matching the total the unit surrendered over the course of the 12-game season last fall.
- Notre Dame held nine of its 13 opponents last fall to 300 total yards or less. Tonight's contest was the first of 2013 limiting a foe under that number, with Purdue gaining 294. Temple managed 362 and Michigan 480 prior…
- The Irish improved to 17-0 when throwing fewer than 30 passes in the 40-game Kelly era...
- Notre Dame is 45-2 since the beginning of the 2005 season when it out-rushes its opponent...
- The Irish achieved balance offensively thanks to a final series that included 10 runs in 11 snaps. Notre Dame passed 33 times and ran 35 (not including a pair of kneel-downs) in 70 snaps.
- Tonight's contest was the first in which T.J. Jones didn't leave the Irish in pass targets. Daniels paced the squad with 12 while Jones was second with seven, securing four for 57 yards.
- Daniels converted third-down situations into first downs with grabs of 28, 11, and 9 yards (a touchdown) and 18 yards, the latter to extend the game's final drive deep in Irish territory.
- Notre Dame's 91 rushing yards was the third lowest total in a win during the 42-game, 30-win Kelly era. The Irish rushed for just 52 yards in a Week Two win over Purdue last September and 87 in a 23-17 win over Pittsburgh in October 2010.
- Tommy Rees played without an interception for the seventh time in the 22 games in which he's been Notre Dame's quarterback of note.
- Sophomore Slot/RB Will Mahone made his collegiate debut Saturday night as part of Notre Dame's kick coverage unit. Missing from the group was senior regular Kendall Moore, the linebacker was suspended, along with junior safety Eilar Hardy, for a violation of team rules.
- Purdue's 38 total rushing yards ranks as the fifth-lowest total allowed by Notre Dame in the 42-game Kelly era. Western Michigan (37), Michigan State (29), Oklahoma (15), and Boston College (5) each fared worse than did the Boilermakers ground game Saturday night.
- Rees tied Irish legend Rick Mirer (1989-92) for fourth-place on the program's all-time touchdown passing list. Both have 41 touchdown passes in their Irish careers. Next in line for Rees, Ron Powlus at 52.