FORT WAYNE – Records: No. 14 Irish (1-0); No. 17 Wolverines (1-0)
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Radio: 1190 AM, 107.3 FM
3 matchups to watch
Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt vs. Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan: This heavyweight matchup will not happen on every down, but when these two preseason All-Americans clash, it will be one of the most intense one-on-one matchups tonight. Tuitt, a 6-foot-6, 322-pound junior, had two tackles, a sack and a quarterback hurry for the Irish in last year’s 13-6 win over the Wolverines. The projected first-round NFL draft pick enters tonight tied for 10th on Notre Dame’s all-time sack list with 15. Lewan, a 6-8, 315-pound senior, has started 36 games and has given up only one sack in his career. He was expected to be a first-round selection in this year’s NFL draft, but he decided to return for a fifth season with Michigan.
Notre Dame’s passing defense vs. Michigan’s passing offense: The Irish will have to respect a Wolverines’ running game that picked up 242 yards and scored six touchdowns in last week’s 59-9 win over Central Michigan, but Notre Dame will have to be ready to defend the passing game more with Devin Gardner at quarterback for Michigan. The 6-4, 210-pound Gardner has completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 1,381 yards with 12 touchdowns in games he has started. He also has plenty of weapons led by 5-8, 184-pound receiver Jeremy Gallon, who had four catches for 47 yards with a touchdown last week and 88 receptions for 1,378 yards with nine touchdowns in his career. The Irish were comfortable giving up short passes for small gains in last week’s 28-6 win over Temple, which had 228 passing yards. Cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell, a 5-11, 190-pound sophomore, Bennett Jackson, a 6-foot, 195 pound senior, and Lo Wood, a 5-10, 194-pound senior, were not tested much against the Owls as they combined for five tackles, but they will be needed against the Wolverines.
Notre Dame center Nick Martin vs. Michigan Stadium crowd noise: The 6-4, 295-pound Martin, who is the younger brother of left guard Zack Martin, started his first game last week. He will have a new experience in tonight’s game at Michigan Stadium. The first night game in the Big House two years ago drew an NCAA record crowd of 114,804 and Michigan flooded the stadium with yellow pom-poms. Michigan will hand out LED-light up bracelets this year for a game the university has dubbed Under the Lights II. I’m lucky to be playing between two veterans in (right guard Christian) Lombard and (left guard Chris) Watt. I can trust they are going to be where they need to be each play, Martin said of his first start in this type of environment.
Prediction: Michigan 14, Notre Dame 10