The next game on the road to the BCS for Notre Dame is Saturday night in Ann Arbor. The 14th ranked Irish will head to the Big House to face the 17th ranked Wolverines for the last time in the foreseeable future. The Irish have pulled out of the storied series due to their commitment to the ACC to schedule five games a season to conference opponents. Michigan coach Brady Hoke says the Irish are "Chickening out of the series" which has been played annually since 2002, while Irish coach Brian Kelly says that the ND U of M game "isn't a rivalry" but just a great game that the Irish play. Either way the game Saturday night is one of the most anticipated as well as one of the most hyped games of the 2013 season.
The last time Notre Dame went to Michigan Stadium the Irish took an early 14-0 lead on a touchdown pass to Theo Riddick, and a short run from Cierre Wood. Tommy Rees threw his first of two first half picks early in the second quarter which led to a 43 yard touchdown pass from Denard Robinson to Junior Hemmingway. The Irish tacked on a field goal right before the half making it 17-7 at Halftime. Notre Dame led off the scoring in the second half as well on a 15 yard touchdown pass from Rees to TJ Jones. The Irish went into the fourth quarter up 24-7 but Michigan started the quarter on the goal line. After Denard Robinson ran the ball in for the score, Michigan scored again just four minutes later on a pass from Robinson to Gallon to make it Notre Dame 24 Michigan 21 with 10:47 left in the game.
Now anyone that can remember what happened in the last two minuets of this game remembers where they were, who they were with, and how it was probably the most exciting two minuets of football seen in the past decade. From jubilation to heartbreak to I can't believe what I just witnessed, and it started with Vincent Smith (the same guy that became famous when he was shellacked by Jadeveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl) catching a 21 yard touchdown pass from Robinson giving Michigan their first lead of the night at 28-24 with 1:12 left in the game. But here come the Irish, after a pass interference call Tommy Rees threw a 29 yard bullet to Theo Riddick with 30 seconds left to give ND a 31-28 lead. Now it was Michigan's turn to drive down the field to try and win the game at home, and that's just what they did. A defensive laps gave Robinson who was flushed out of the pocket a wide open target in Jeremy Gallon which went for 63 yards before he stepped out of bounds. The next play will be forever remembered by both schools as one of the best or worst as Robinson connected with Roundtree for the games final score and a thrilling Michigan victory.
This years game will feature two much improved teams from the meeting two years ago, Notre Dame's Achilles heel in past years has been their defensive backs which have been much improved in the past two years under Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. Also this year Michigan will have a new and improved QB in Devin Gardner, who is a mobile quarterback that can throw the ball more effectively and accurately than Michigan has had in previous years. Tommy Rees will be back for his second night game at Michigan stadium and with him brings a few new faces to help the Irish offense down the field. Rookies Greg Bryant and Corey Robinson look to make an impact on offense, and on defense Jaylon Smith will start his second game at linebacker and try to stop a potent Michigan offense that put up 59 points in week one against Central Michigan. I don't anticipate this game will be as high scoring as the last meeting at the Big House but that doesn't mean it will be any less exciting. Two top notch defenses against two dangerous offenses should make for another classic game in this series finale under the lights.