Notre Dame vs. Michigan 2018: Primer

One of the greatest rivalries in College Football is just days away. Notre Dame will kick-off the 2018 campaign against Michigan in primetime. The Fighting Irish are looking to build off a 10-win season in 2017 and make the playoffs for first time in program history. The Wolverines are seeking a spot in the Big Ten Championship and will be led by incoming transfer Shea Patterson. College GameDay will be on campus, and all eyes will be on this monumental matchup.

Reminder: Notre Dame is attempting a Green Out for this game.  If you don’t have green gameday attire yet, check out our post from Monday with some great Notre Dame green gear.  

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: September 1st, 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup: Notre Dame is 16-24-1 all-time against Michigan (The Wolverines won 8 in a row from 1887-1908)
  • Current Odds: Michigan -1.5
  • Weekend Events: The Football Pep Rally will take place Friday, August 31st at 6:00 p.m. outside Rockne Memorial. There will be countless events the weekend of the game, for all the information visit

Notre Dame vs. Michigan Tickets

This is one of the toughest tickets to get this year.  Prices to get in the door through most sites are ~ $300 before their fees.  Our partners at Ticket Network have plenty available though prices are steep.  Note: if you buy your tickets through our links, you directly help support UHND.

South Bend Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 60% chance of rain with a high of 83 degrees and low of 68.  Below is a look at the next 5 days leading up to the game (this will automatically update to be the most recent 5 days throughout the week).

[wunderground location=”South Bend, IN” numdays=”5″ layout=”simple”]

Michigan Details:

  • Conference: Big Ten East
  • Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh
  • 2017 Record: 8-5
  • 2016 Record: 10-3

Michigan Storylines:

Shea Patterson leads the Wolverines. Michigan has been lacking elite quarterback play since Jim Harbaugh took over in Ann Arbor. Although Patterson has shown more potential than actual production on the field, many seem to believe he is a Heisman Caliber of player. Numerous mock drafts even him going in the first round of next year’s NFL Draft.

Patterson’s achilles heel has been throwing interceptions, particularly against elite teams. Patterson had 9 interceptions last season, 2 against Alabama and 3 against LSU. He will be tested once again when he travels to South Bend this week.

When Patterson does visit the Irish, he will be without one of his top receiving targets, Tarik Black who apparently injured his foot in practice. But there has been no official news out of the Michigan Football Program. This would be a major loss to the passing game for Michigan.

Don Brown’s Defense: The last time the Irish faced a Don Brown Defense was back in 2015, when he was the Defensive Coordinator of the Boston College Eagles, which was statistically the best defense in the nation. Boston College gave Notre Dame fits that night in Fenway Park.  Since 2016, he has been the Defensive Coordinator at Michigan.

Coming into this fall, Michigan has been praised as having one of the best defenses in the country, led by Pre-Season All-Americans Rashan Gary and Devin Bush, to name of a few of the returning starters. Experts have put them in the same company as Clemson and even Alabama. Don Brown’s Defense against the Notre Dame Offensive Line will be a spectacle to see.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Brandon Wimbush Passing Attack. The quarterback position has been the most scrutinized spot the entire offseason, as it typically is in South Bend. Brandon Wimbush is one of the best running quarterbacks in the country. Last fall, Wimbush rushed for 803 yards and totaled 14 touchdowns.

However, he struggled in the passing game. Wimbush went 136 of 275 attempts, for a 49.5% completion percentage, while tallying 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Just how much has Wimbush’s passing game improved 9 months removed from a benching in the Citrus Bowl? The country will find out this Saturday Night.

Can the Running Backs step up? Since last season, Notre Dame has lost Josh Adams to the NFL, Deon McIntosh and CJ Holmes to transfers, Markese Stepp’s commitment due to undisclosed issues, and Dexter Williams allegedly is suspended four games. The once extremely deep position is now down to only a handful of inexperienced players.

Tony Jones Jr. will be the starting running back accompanied by Jafar Armstrong and Avery Davis. Jones Jr. had 44 carries for 232 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2017.  Armstrong was a receiver last year, and Davis was a quarterback. I’m extremely worried about the running back spot, but Irish have seen players like Josh Adams as a freshman and CJ Prosise as a receiver, step up in the past.

Signs of the 2012 Notre Dame Defense? Since 2012 the Fighting Irish have struggled to get a pass rush on opposing teams. Notre Dame returns almost their entire defensive line from last season. The depth is without a doubt the most important aspect of the defensive line.

Projected starters Daelin Hayes, Jerry Tillery, Jonathan Bonner, and Khalid Kareem are accompanied by Julian Okwara, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Kurt Hinish, and Adetokunbo Ogundeji.  Experience and depth will be a key factor for the Irish Defense against the Wolverines

Head to Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Michigan Defense. Michigan has almost their entire defense returning from a season ago. Although they only went 8-5, their defense was the major reason that they were in a lot of games. The Wolverine Defense is stacked with future NFL talent, and one of the best coordinators in the entire country.

Notre Dame will bring back a lot of players who contributed on offense a season ago. The main focus is the running back position, and production in the passing game. The dual threat of Wimbush will help the Irish, but I’m still giving the edge to Michigan.

Advantage Michigan Defense

Michigan Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense. Although the Notre Dame Defense hasn’t received the national attention that Michigan’s has this off-season, they have the potential to be just as good. The secondary, middle linebackers, and line all have experience and talent. While I expect Michigan to be better on the offensive side of the ball, I’m giving the advantage to the experience and home field advantage that the Notre Dame Defense will have.

Advantage Notre Dame Defense

Special Teams. Quinn Nordin of Michigan missed 3 extra points last season, and was 19 of 24 for field goals. Conversely, Justin Yoon was 14 of 18 last season, with 0 missed extra points (and did just nail a 62 yarder in practice). That was after missing 2 in his first game against Temple. I have faith in Yoon, but the Irish punt and kick return did not impress me last year. Due to the transfer of CJ Sanders, it looks like Michael Young and Tony Jones Jr. will be returning kick offs, with Chris Finke remaining on punt returns.

Advantage: Tie

My Prediction:

I believe both of these teams are going to have great seasons. This may in fact be the year Michigan wins the Big Ten and beats Ohio State. Each of these teams have stacked defenses, and a few question marks at the quarterback position. The matchup reminds me a lot of the Notre Dame – Georgia game last season. Expect a strong defensive matchup with points at a premium.

I have the Irish winning by a field goal for 2 reasons. First, the game is in South Bend and the Stadium will be electric. If Notre Dame fans can fill the stands in Green, it will be an historic event and give the Irish an added advantage.

Secondly, Brandon Wimbush. Even though he struggled in the passing game last year, I believe that he will show enough improvement to put the Irish over the top. His dual threat ability will be sufficient to get past this notorious Michigan Defense. Shea Patterson is the best quarterback Michigan has had, but in his first game at Notre Dame Stadium, I think he comes up just short against the Irish.

 Prediction: Notre Dame 24 Michigan 21

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  1. I saw predicted a 90% chance of rain @ game time . . .
    does that factor in for one team more than the other?

    Any who have lived in South Bend realize if there is precipitation anywhere around South Bend, it comes down the St. Joe’s river and dumps on ‘ol Notre Dame . . .
    So expect it to be wet, which sucks. I believe rain usually gives an advantage to the better running team, but having a wet field could lead to a slippery pigskin and/or a DB slipping on coverage, all of which could detract from what should be the better team (ND) winning.

    1. Michael…yes the weather looks wetter and wetter. But at least it won’t be hot, like the ’78 MIZZERI game. I still hope it’s dry for the first half, like another game against “M”, but nobody sounds optimistic at this point.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  2. Michigan’s D faced two offenses all last year ranked in the top for and didnt slow down either one. Paper tiger?

  3. If ND wins it will be because of Defense. I have little faith in Wimbush. Great guy. But he’s too inside his head on the field. Go Irish!!

  4. Some one famously noted that “all kickers are head cases” – and Justin has had his “head case” game every year – one game, to be exact! But it is never a so-called “big game” and it is never in bad weather…he always seems to be at his uncanny best in those situations. He is definitely a “money” player.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  5. I’d rather beat Michigan than any other rivalry for I can think of (except Stanford, but only because of their asinine band). I’d rather beat Michigan than USC…rather beat Michigan even more than Miami! GO IRISH, whup ’em again!

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. I was at the game last year and loved the Stanford band. Bonus points because they didnt play any bon jovi or sweet caroline

      1. Bonus points if they restrained themselves from mocking a human holocaust.

        BGC ’77 ’82


  7. I feel like the quality and depth at almost every position is on another level since Michigan last saw ND. I feel oddly confident in the Irish in this matchup.

    If Coach Long can game plan some things early to get Wimbush in rhythm, I think ND wins this fairly easily but he has to weather the storm early. I can see Michigan trying to bring pressure early to see if they can rattle Wimbush.

    Give me ND 24 – MIchigan 14

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