No. 14 Michigan, No. 12 Notre Dame revive rivalry in opener
No. 14 Michigan (8-5 last season) at No. 12 Notre Dame (10-3), 7:30 p.m. ET, (NBC)
Line: Notre Dame by 1.
Series record: Michigan leads 24-17-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Coming off an 8-5 season, Michigan is looking for a notable victory from against a rival to set the tone for a bounce-back. Coach Jim Harbaugh is 1-5 in three seasons at his alma mater against the Wolverines‘ main rivals: Ohio State (0-3) and Michigan State (1-2). The Fighting Irish look to start a season in playoff contention with an early resume-booster.
Michigan’s defensive line, led by Rashan Gary, vs. Notre Dame’s offensive line. The Fighting Irish had to replace the best left side of an offensive line in college football after OT Mike McGlinchey and OG Quenton Nelson were first-round NFL draft picks. They are still formidable up front with second-team preseason All-Americans in OG Alex Bars and C Sam Mustipher. Liam Eichenberg is the new left tackle and will see a lot of Gary, a likely future first-round pick.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan: QB Shea Patterson. The transfer from Mississippi is the most talented quarterback Harbaugh has had at Michigan. The junior passed for 2,259 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season. A knee injury cut short 2017.
Notre Dame: RB Tony Jones Jr. Maybe? The Fighting Irish are looking for a top tailback to emerge from an inexperienced group that includes Jones, former quarterback Avery Davis and former receiver Jafar Armstrong. The most experienced back, Dexter Williams, is not expected to play the opener because of off-field issues.
FACTS & FIGURES
The rivalry went on a hiatus after the 2014 season … Michigan has lost 16 straight road games against ranked teams, dating back to 2006 … Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush set a school record for a quarterback with 14 rushing touchdowns … Notre Dame as a new defensive coordinator in Clark Lea, who was promoted when Mike Elko left for Texas A&M … Michigan’s offense has some new coaches, but no designated coordinator. Former Florida coach Jim McElwain was brought in to be wide receiver coach and veteran offensive line coach Ed Warinner … Michigan LB Devin Bush is a first-team preseason All-American.