South Bend, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The final scheduled meeting between a pair of iconic college football programs takes place this Saturday night, as the Michigan Wolverines come calling on the 16th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Both teams come in sporting 1-0 records, as Michigan opened the 2014 season with a 52-14 shellacking of new FBS member Appalachian State in Ann Arbor last weekend, while Notre Dame manhandled visiting Rice, 48-17, in its lid lifter.
Michigan's win over the Mountaineers was payback for what was arguably one of the biggest upsets in college football history, when ASU came into the Big House back in 2007 and prevailed in a 34-32 final. It was the first time a team from the FCS had knocked off a ranked FBS squad.
The Wolverines are hoping to make waves in the Big Ten Conference this year, as head coach Brady Hoke embarks on his fourth season at the helm. Hoke is 27-13 at Michigan, and his team will return home following this clash for its next three games, including the league opener against Minnesota on Sept. 27.
Notre Dame made quick work of the Owls in the opener, scoring double-digit points in each quarter. In fact, the 48 points put up by the Irish was their most in a home opener since scoring the same in a win over Kansas back in 1999.
UND has won 30 of its last 38 games overall, and the team owns the best winning percentage in the history of major college football (.733).
Michigan owns a 24-16-1 lead in the all-time series with Notre Dame, and the Wolverines won last year's tussle in Ann Arbor, 41-30. UM is one of only 13 teams that has a winning record against the Fighting Irish, with its eight-win advantage in the series being the most of any school.
Michigan's Devin-to-Devin show was in full effect in last week's rout of Appalachian State, as quarterback Devin Gardner hit wide receiver Devin Funchess for three first-half touchdowns. Gardner wound up going a near- perfect 13-of-14 for 173 yards and the three scores, while Funchess finished with seven grabs for 95 yards.
The UM run game was the stabilizing force though, as the Wolverines hammered out 350 yards while scoring three TDs, two of which belonged to De'Veon Smith. Smith tallied 115 yards on only eight carries, while Derrick Green led the way with 170 yards and a score on 15 totes. By averaging 9.72 yards per carry, the Wolverines set a new single-game program record.
Coach Hoke spoke about what it means to have a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game.
"I think it's huge for our football team, and it's huge for both those young men. They're both big backs, but they're different. As you notice, Smith, he would rather run you over than play tag or try and make you miss. Green has a combination of both. It was good to have those guys have success, and I think it speaks, again, to what the receivers did and the offensive line did."
Michigan outgained the Mountaineers, 560-280, doing so on an average of 10.2 yards per offensive play. The Wolverines converted 5-of-8 third-down opportunities and scored on all six of their trips to the red zone, five of which were TDs.
Both teams took very good care of the football, but the UM defense was on point in permitting a mere 127 passing yards and only 3.8 yards per aerial attempt. The Mountaineers were successful on only 5-of-17 third-down tries.
Desmond Morgan and James Ross III paced the Wolverines with six tackles apiece, while three others tallied five. There weren't a ton of big plays, as the Maize and Blue were credited with only four TFL and two sacks, but they pretty much controlled the action on both sides of the ball throughout.
The return of quarterback Everett Golson gave Notre Dame a huge boost in last week's opener against Rice. Golson, who missed last season due to academic issues, scored three rushing touchdowns in the game, tying a school record in the process, while also throwing for 295 yards and two more scores.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly gave his impressions of Golson's first game back at the helm.
"I was just happy to see him have success. You know, he had a great confidence about him. For the last four or five days, he carried himself with a great deal of confidence; confidence with his teammates, and directing, really, the offense in a number of ways."
He continued, "There's a lot of things that he will tell you that he's got to continue to improve on, but there's a confidence that he carries with him that is starting to emanate, and that's going to only get better and better as he gains more confidence."
Will Fuller was the team's top receiver with four catches for 85 yards and a TD, while Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston paced the rushing attack with 71 yards each. Bryant scored one of the team's four touchdowns on the ground, and the team as a whole accounted for 281 rushing yards, averaging 6.7 ypc in the process.
Notre Dame outgained Rice by more than 200 yards (576-367), and the Owls were limited to only 141 rushing yards. They reached the red zone only twice, but came away with points both times.
Joe Schmidt was UND's top tackler with eight stops, while Sheldon Day tallied half a dozen. Matthias Farley came up with an interception, while Nicky Baratti pounced on a fumble. The Irish had just two sacks in the game, and only four TFL.