14 Storylines for the 2014 Football Season: The Last Tango with Michigan

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

So much bitterness.

The fifth of 14 storylines as we approach the 2014 football season...

The upcoming game with Michigan this fall doesn't compare in importance to the BCS National Title Game a couple years ago but it's about as close as a regular season game can get without a championship directly on the line.

Winning against Utah in 2010 was crucial at the time. The team really needed that one. A bounce back against Michigan State in 2011 was huge, as well. However, with everything surrounding this game it has to be the most important non-2012 regular season contest for the Fighting Irish.

Who knows when we'll play Michigan again? It probably won't be that long of a break, still an 8 to 10 year break could seem like 50 years if Notre Dame can't beat the Wolverines in a couple months.

Brian Kelly is 13-3 against Purdue, Michigan State, USC, and Navy since coming to Notre Dame--and hasn't dropped a game to any of those opponents since October 22, 2011. Additionally, one can understand his 1-3 record against Stanford as the Cardinal have been ranked inside the Top 20 in every game after being ranked that high in only 3 of the previous 24 games against the Irish.

Going 1-3 against very flawed and sometimes downright average Michigan teams is a different story.

This one in 2014 will be another night game. The all-time winning percentage is hotly contested. It's likely Kelly's last chance to beat Michigan. And while it's always important to beat Michigan early in the year--and usually portends good things for the Irish--the schedule sets up so that a 4-0 start is very attainable but almost necessary with a brutal 8 game stretch that leaves very little breathing room on the back two-thirds of the slate.

Win and a lot of positive vibes can be built up with crucial bragging rights owned. Lose and a lot of questions will creep into the program.

We tango one last time in 52 days.

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