College Football

Michigan vs. Notre Dame: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner (98) rushes on a break away run in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game with Notre Dame, in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
Tony Ding/Associated Press
Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2014

Saturday, a fading rivalry between two legendary programs has one last gasp for the foreseeable future when the Michigan Wolverines make the trip to South Bend to take on No. 16 Notre Dame.

No future installments of the showdown that annually kicks off the serious portion of the season are on the schedule for future years, so fans might want to set anything and everything aside to catch this one.

As Sporting News' Bill Bender illustrates, recent history says the final clash will be a classic:

The game, however, continues to produce dramatic finishes to the present day. Since the programs resumed the rivalry on an almost-annual basis in 1978, the Wolverines have a 15-14-1 advantage. Four of the last five meetings have been decided by a TD or less, and close to 20 points per game were scored in the fourth quarter in those games.

Below, let's take a look at all of the game's pertinent info, factors to take into account beforehand and a prediction to boot.

 

When: September 6, 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana

Television: NBC

Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 56
  • Spread: Notre Dame (-6)

 

Team Injury Reports

Michigan Injury Report
Player Pos. Date Details Status Injury
Jake ButtTE08/03/2014is out indefinitelyOutknee
Graham GlasgowG08/31/2014is probable for Saturday's game against Notre DameProbableone-game suspension served
Drake HarrisWR08/30/2014is expected to miss the entire seasonOuthamstring
Delano HillS08/09/2014is out indefinitelyOutjaw
Ty IsaacRB08/28/2014is out indefinitelyOuteligibility
Jabrill PeppersCB09/02/2014is probable for Saturday's game against Notre DameProbableankle
Csont'e YorkWR08/09/2014was dismissed from the teamOutdisciplinary
USA Today
Notre Dame Injury Report
Player Pos. Date Details Status Injury
Austin CollinsworthS08/30/2014is out indefinitelyOutknee
DaVaris DanielsWR08/15/2014is suspended indefinitelySuspendeddisciplinary
Jarrett GraceLB09/03/2014is out indefinitelyOutknee
Eilar HardyS08/29/2014is suspended indefinitelySuspendeddisciplinary
Mike HeuermanTE08/31/2014is questionable for Saturday's game against MichiganQuestionablehernia
Torii Hunter, JrWR08/09/2014is out indefinitelyOutgroin
Will MahoneWR08/02/2014is suspended indefinitelySuspendeddisciplinary
Kendall MooreLB08/15/2014is suspended indefinitelySuspendeddisciplinary
KeiVarae RussellCB08/15/2014is suspended indefinitelySuspendeddisciplinary
Tony SpringmannDT08/04/2014will miss the entire seasonOutback
Ishaq WilliamsLB08/18/2014was dismissed from the teamOutdisciplinary
USA Today

Injury reports via USA Today.

 

The End of a Series and What's at Stake

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 07: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish shakes hands with head coach Brady Hoke after a 41-30 loss at Michigan Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Last year, the Fighting Irish made the trip to Ann Arbor and left with bowed heads after a 41-30 loss. Coach Brian Kelly took a hit in more ways than one, as before the contest he had downplayed the credibility of the rivalry itself. 

He sure isn't making that mistake twice.

Kelly clearly doesn't care too much for the series, but he put it in a more kind manner this year when speaking to the press about the doors now open for his team with Michigan out of the way, as captured by Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com:

I'm not going to go so far as to categorize not playing anymore is a good idea, because that's going to come back to me. So I'm going to stay away from that. I will say this: Given the complexities of our schedule, in not being able to play Michigan, it opens up so many more exciting opportunities for us.

Those opportunities are a major reason Kelly's side simply cannot afford to lose at home Saturday. In fact, it would be easier to list off the unranked teams Notre Dame encounters the rest of the way.

The Fighting Irish, as the ranks stand currently, have dates with No. 13 Stanford, No. 21 North Carolina, No. 1 Florida State, No. 17 Arizona State, No. 25 Louisville and No. 14 USC on the schedule this year, making the path to the playoff seemingly impossible.

Of course, the game is important to Michigan as well, but the Wolverines appear to have an easier ride after Saturday's encounter.

 

The Quarterback Spotlight

Joe Raymond/Associated Press

Like many collegiate contests, this one will come down to who produces better under center.

On Michigan's side is Devin Gardner once again, who threw four touchdowns and led the Wolverines in rushing last season in that triumph against the Fighting Irish. Just last week, Gardner was back to that form in a 52-14 win over Appalachian State, throwing for 173 yards and three touchdowns.

Kelly himself admits that Gardner is a player who forces his staff's hand unlike most.

“I would think we would have a little bit more and a variety of schemes for Gardner because he can hurt you obviously running the football and throwing the football,” Kelly said, per Keith Arnold of NBCSports.com. “We’re going to have to have a comprehensive plan for him.”

It will not be as easy for Gardner to be the best signal-caller on the field this time around, though, especially now that Everett Golson is back under center for Notre Dame.

In Notre Dame's 48-17 rout of Rice last week, the senior threw for 295 yards and two scores while complementing that output with 41 yards on the ground and another three touchdowns. As ESPN's George Whitfield Jr. notes, not only has Golson taken a step up in a development sense, those around him have received an upgrade, too:

It all equates to a thrilling showdown between two of the collegiate landscape's more entertaining quarterbacks, and who knows? Maybe a marquee victory with some gaudy stats propels one of the two into the Heisman conversation.

 

Prediction

Aug 30, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Devin Funchess (1) runs the ball for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

At first glance, there are issues that could doom either side.

Michigan has been miserable on the road under coach Brady Hoke, going 6-8 away from Michigan Stadium over the course of his tenure.

On the flip side, Kelly's defense looks to be without cornerback KeiVarae Russell, defensive end Ishaq Williams and linebacker Kendall Moore yet again, per the injury report.

That last bit, above all else, will decide the contest.

The Notre Dame defense was already a work in progress. Gardner is sure to get his one way or another, but it is wideout Devin Funchess (seven catches for 95 yards and three touchdowns last week) who will really break the Fighting Irish's back late in the contest.

In a battle between two of the winningest programs in NCAA history, one player can decide it all. Push comes to shove Saturday, that will be Funchess.

 

Prediction: Wolverines 35, Fighting Irish 28

 

Statistics courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.

 

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