=== Heated rivalry resumes as Irish visit Wolverines ===
 
 Ann Arbor, MI (Sports Network) - Top 25 foes collide in the Big House, as the
 17th-ranked Michigan Wolverines play host to the 14th-ranked Notre Dame
 Fighting Irish.
 
 Brady Hoke's Wolverines began the post-Denard Robinson era with an impressive
 display against Central Michigan, routing the Chippewas last weekend in Ann
 Arbor, 59-9. Last season, Michigan posted an 8-5 record, with the five losses
 coming against powerhouse teams in Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State
 and South Carolina, all outside of Ann Arbor.
 
 Brian Kelly's Irish certainly have a lot to live up to. Last year's squad ran
 the table in the regular season and entered the BCS National Championship game
 with a perfect 12-0 record. However, the team's weaknesses were revealed in
 an ugly 42-14 loss to Alabama. Notre Dame opened the 2013 campaign last
 weekend at home and posted a 28-6 win over Temple.
 
 These two teams have won a collective 20 national titles and rank first and
 second in terms of all-time winning percentage. Michigan leads the country at
 .7341 (904-315-36), while Notre Dame is a close second at .7339 (866-301-42).
 
 This is the 41st all-time meeting in this series, with the Wolverines holding
 a 23-16-1 advantage. Notre Dame won last year's matchup in South Bend, forcing
 six turnovers, including five interceptions, en route to a 20-3 victory.
 
 No added storylines are necessary when these two teams meet.
 
 "Well, we go on the road this week against a very good opponent in Michigan,"
 said Kelly. "Excited about the opportunity. Certainly we'll have to play very
 good football. It's a great and historic rivalry that we'll be playing this
 Saturday, so let's get that out of the way right away so we don't have to
 answer any more questions about this rivalry. We're excited about the game,
 excited about playing it. This will be decided by the players on the field and
 the preparation that goes along with it so we can stick to that and dispense
 with the nonsense."
 
 The Irish didn't light up the scoreboard last weekend against the Owls,
 although they did fill up the stat sheet by churning out an impressive 543
 yards of offense. The ground game was credited with 188 of those yards and
 featured several RBs making contributions, led by Amir Carlisle (68 yards, 9.7
 ypc), Cam McDaniel (65 yards, 5.4 ypc) and George Atkinson III (4.2 ypc, one
 TD).
 
 The threat of the run definitely helped quarterback Tommy Rees, who earned the
 starting job after Everett Golson was ruled ineligible. Rees definitely has
 some confidence heading into this matchup, after torching the Owls, completing
 16-of-23 passes, for 346 yards and three TDs. All-American candidate T.J.
 Jones led the way with six catches, for 138 yards in the win, but it was
 DaVaris Daniels who took two of his three receptions to the end zone.
 
 Replacing everything Heisman runner up Manti Te'o brought to the Irish defense
 is impossible. Notre Dame will be charged with finding a new identity on that
 side of the football in 2013. Luckily for Kelly, there are plenty of standout
 playmakers who should step up. Veteran linebackers Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese
 provide leadership in the middle. Fox led the team with 10 tackles against
 Temple, while Calabrese finished with nine stops and a fumble recovery.
 
 Up front, Notre Dame has a pair of All-American caliber players in end Stephon
 Tuitt and tackle Louis Nix III. Tuitt was an All-American in 2012 and opened
 this season with one of the team's two sacks against Temple. Nix may be the
 best nose guard in the country at a mammoth 6-3, 357 pounds.
 
 Michigan may no longer have Robinson under center but Devin Gardner did a
 pretty good impression in the Wolverines' rout of Central Michigan. The 6-4
 signal-caller led an offensive attack that rolled up 463 yards against the
 Chippewas, including 242 yards on the ground. Gardner was responsible for just
 52 of those yards, but did score two of the team's six rushing touchdowns. He
 also found time to complete 10-of-15 passes, for 162 yards and one TD.
 
 Michigan showed patience and balance in its rushing attack, as both senior
 Fitzgerald Toussaint and freshman Derrick Green led the way in terms of
 carries, combining for three touchdowns.
 
 The team doesn't have a standout receiver after one game, as eight different
 players caught passes against the Chippewas. However, senior Jeremy Gallon did
 lead the way with four catches, for 47 yards and one score.
 
 The defensive numbers for Michigan are probably skewed due to the competition
 thus far and the Wolverines should be tested more in this one. Still, the team
 limited CMU to just 210 yards of total offense, including a meager 66 yards
 rushing (2.3 ypc). In addition, UM registered nine TFL, four sacks and two
 turnovers.
 
 Junior middle linebacker Desmond Morgan led the way in the win with seven
 total tackles. Fellow linebacker Cameron Gordon got off to a fast start as
 well, posting four tackles, 2.5 TFL and two sacks.
 
 Hoke knows his young Wolverines have a tough task ahead of them.
 
 "Does it make you a little nervous when you have a young football team playing
 in this environment? I think the best thing we do is try to educate them as to
 what it's going to be like," said Hoke in his weekly press conference. "We
 started that last night. They're off today, but on Tuesday, we'll talk more
 about the atmosphere and have some of the older kids talk about what it's
 going to be like. That's part of it. With technology today, you can show them
 it. We also talk about not being distracted. That's taking care of your job
 and being accountable to your teammates."
 
 
 
 
 09/04 11:28:12 ET