By Ashley Dunkak
As No. 14 Notre Dame and No. 17 Michigan prepare to meet at the Big House this weekend, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly seems to think the matchup is no big deal.
“I really haven’t seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries,” Kelly said Sunday. “I’ve seen it as just a great football game that Notre Dame has played. For me, I’ve been in Michigan a long time, so I’ve always felt that the Notre Dame-Michigan game was a big regional game. But I think in the Notre Dame history books, this game has [been played], but obviously there’s been some years where it hasn’t been played for a number of years as well.”
To put it mildly, Michigan coach Brady Hoke does not share that opinion.
“ESPN Gameday has been here six times for this football game,” Hoke said. “That’s pretty significant if they’re coming to this campus or to the campus in South Bend. So it must have some sort of national appeal. Coaching in a lot of places, and maybe it’s just me, but I know that whenever Michigan and Notre Dame was on TV, I was going to be watching it. I know people in Corvallis, Ore., were going to be watching it — for one reason or another.”
The last four years, meetings between the Irish and the Wolverines have come down to the wire, with each game determined by a touchdown or less. Over the last 10 games, the series is split 6-4 in favor of Michigan. All time, the Wolverines hold a 23-16-1 edge. Despite what Kelly has to say, Notre Dame has been considered one of the Wolverines’ big rivals along with Ohio State and Michigan State.
Back in May, Michigan’s athletic director Dave Brandon did not seem optimistic about restarting the series with Notre Dame any time soon.
“It’s going to be a long time,” Brandon said then. “As I understood it from my counterpart at Notre Dame, they’re making plans to go in a different direction. So the earliest we could schedule would be sometime post-2021, 2022, and when you start talking that far out, who knows. So it’s going to be a while.”