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.