Two historically acclaimed programs meet on Saturday night under the lights when Michigan host Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium.
There has never been a night game at Michigan Stadium in the famed building's 84-year history. To commemorate the special occasion, both Michigan and Notre Dame will wear throwback uniforms.
After the excitement of the first-ever night game wears off, both teams will be eager to get a victory -- especially for unranked Notre Dame who started the season ranked 16th, but fell to South Florida last week at Notre Dame Stadium.
Much of the focus will be on Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees. Last week, regular starter Dayne Crist completed only seven passes on 15 attempts for 95 yards and one interception in the senior's first start since reconstructive knee surgery last November.
Rees replaced Crist and fared much better -- completing 24 passes on 34 attempts for 296 yards. Head coach Brian Kelly wasn't expecting to change quarterbacks so early, but the move to Rees as the regular quarterback might mean a fresh start for Notre Dame, a program that really needs to get out of a hole. Michael Floyd, one of the best receivers in college football, will be Rees's main target once again.
Kelly will have to be concerned with a Michigan defense that is expected to be strong. The Wolverines conceded only 10 points in a shortened game against Western Michigan last week, and are led by linebacker Brandon Herron, who was named Defensive Player of the Week. Herron became the first defensive player in Michigan history to score twice in a game when he returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns.
New defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who had the same position with the Baltimore Ravens last season, is expected to bolster a defense that had major struggles in 2010. Last season, Michigan had eight games where they conceded 35 points or more.
Brady Hoke, Michigan's new head coach, has many people wondering how he will utilize exciting quarterback Denard Robinson. In the three-quarter game against Western Michigan, Robinson threw just 13 pass, and completed nine of them, for 98 yards. Robinson also ran the ball eight times for 46 yards.
Kelly's defense will make a special effort to contain Robinson after what he did to the Irish last season in South Bend. In only his second full game as Michigan's starting quarterback, Robinson gave a historic performance, setting a school record in total offense by a quarterback (502 yards), and had the longest run in Notre Dame Stadium history with an 87-yard touchdown dash.
Notre Dame's defense is led by junior Manti Te'o. The middle linebacker is a fierce competitor on a defensive squad that returned most of their starters.
LINE: Notre Dame is favored by 3.5 points.
PREDICTION: Floyd will have a big game for the Irish and should give the Michigan defense fits. However, Hoke will let Robinson take control in the second half, and the Wolverines will squeak out a victory in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
PREDICTED SCORE: Michigan 31, Notre Dame 24