Notre Dame's offense joined the upset to start the second quarter as the Irish took a 14-3 lead over No. 15 Utah with 12:25 to play in the first half.
Running back Jonas Gray broke off a 36-yard run to the Utah 8-yard line.
And after a pass interference penalty, Michael Floyd caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Rees.
Notre Dame got everything it needed to build towards an upset, except from its offense.
The Irish took a 7-3 lead into the second quarter thanks to cornerback Robert Blanton blocking a Utes' punt and returning in six yards for a touchdown with 2:04 to play in the first.
The blocked punt was Notre Dame's first since the 2008 Hawaii Bowl, and the first one returned for a touchdown since Toryan Smith returned a block for a score against Navy on Nov. 15, 2008.
The defense also did it's part by coming up with a turnover when safety Harrison Smith leaped in front of Utah's Jereme Brooks at the Utes' 49-yard line.
The defense also held Utah to a field goal on its first possession.
The Utes took over at their 47-yard line after the Irish went for it on fourth-and-3 from the Utah 49. But a pair of false start penalties forced Utah to settle for a 46-yard field goal from Joe Phillips.
With Utah hurting itself with penalties (five in the first quarter), a turnover and a special teams blunder, Notre Dame needs to get its offense in gear with Tommy Rees looking every bit the freshman making his first start.