Game info: Michigan at Notre Dame (Saturday, Sept. 6; 7:30 p.m. ET)
The last scheduled game in the historic Michigan-Notre Dame series will feature plenty of great storylines from the standpoint of the storied programs, but it will also include numerous great one-on-one battles down on the newly laid Field Turf at Notre Dame Stadium. The most notable features a pair of rising stars who will likely be paired up against each other a lot.
Michigan's Devin Funchess is a 6'5", 230-pound junior who last year put together the best single season for a tight end in Wolverines history with 49 catches for 748 yards and six touchdowns. But Funchess' skills are so good Michigan moved him to wide receiver this season, and he showed what he can do in that new position with seven receptions for 95 yards and three TDs in the 52-14 win over Appalachian State on Aug. 30.
Notre Dame is facing a transition year on defense in 2014 after losing several key players and its coordinator from last season's team. But the Fighting Irish have several good players remaining on defense, most notably sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith. The 6'2", 235-pound Smith had 67 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and an interception in his first season of college, and this fall is expected to be the driving force of Notre Dame's defense.
Though Funchess is now a wideout, his size makes it likely that Notre Dame will often put a linebacker on him when he's over the middle, which means Smith will be the best matchup to cover him. And when Michigan plans to run, Funchess will be brought closer to the line to block, and Smith will be among the rushers he'll be trying to keep out of the backfield.