First Look at Michigan-Notre Dame: A Non-Rival Comes to Town

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Kelly is either tone-deaf or fails to understand that things he says can be heard by others. This week Notre Dame rolls into Michigan Stadium to battle under the bright lights. College Gameday will be there, Brent Musberger will be there, and 110,000 of his closest friends. Will it be another bonkers finish or lopsided domination by one of the sides?

Game Time: 8:00 PM EST Fighting Irish vs Wolverines coverage

Television: ESPN

Enemy Blog: One Foot Down

Series History: 41st meeting; Michigan leads 23-16-1

Weather Forecast: Clear and dry by kickoff, 74 degrees and falling; 55% chance of showers and clouds in the AM.

Sure, Michigan and Notre Dame have only faced each other 40 times, yet it has produced numerous classic games that you can find on Big Ten Network or ESPN Classic. Somehow, that's not a traditional rivalry according to one coach, but hey, if you were on the wrong end of two straight soul-crushing losses your brain might malfunction, too.

Our friends at One Foot Down provide all the news, updates, and Tommy Rees-related GIFs one could ever need on the Irish leading up to Saturday night. Last year in South Bend, Notre Dame capitalized on some Michigan mistakes to win 13-6 en route to a 12-0 regular season.

Michigan will resurrect the #98 jersey before kickoff, to honor Tom Harmon's great legacy of completely destroying any opponent who dared face him. The choice of who will wear that number will remain a mystery until the game starts, or perhaps Denard Robinson will magically appear to accept the jersey after discovering a loophole in NCAA rules to allow him to play in one more game.

The game itself is hard to hypothesize on. Devin Gardner and Tommy Rees did not start last year's game, and Gardner of course wasn't the starting quarterback two years ago and at a different position last year. The fortunes of victory live and die with those two, however, but there are play makers all over the field on both sides of the ball, in both uniforms. Notre Dame's defense is young behind the line, whereas Michigan's line is young. Rees has young offensive weapons around him, but Michigan's offense should hold the advantage at the skill positions. It could be one of those games where a special teams play is all that's needed to bust it open, and whichever team is on the wrong end could be waving bye-bye to a chance to win. Dennis Norfleet, your time is now.

I was not at the night game two seasons ago, relegated to viewing from a packed Michigan alumni bar in Washington, D.C. I did not know what universe I was in, because it was dark outside and Michigan was just starting a football game. Even from such a faraway location, I still lost my voice, and the roars from that bar spilled out into the street and could likely be heard for many blocks. This time, I'll be there, and Michigan Stadium at night is what the Big House is supposed to be: a raucous, maize horde of humans all hoping to see a new shade of color blossom on Brian Kelly's face in a fit of rage.

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