Michigan leads the all-time series vs. the Irish 21-15-1, though eight of the Wolverines wins occurred prior to the modern era, winning on five occasions before 1900 including three victories during the 1888 season. Notre Dame scored its first win over Michigan in 1909.
The teams didn't matchup again until 1942, a game won by the Wolverines. Notre Dame took the rematch the following season in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup before the series took a 35-year hiatus.
Since the series resumed on a semi-annual basis in 1978, Notre Dame holds a 13-12-1 edge over their rivals from the north. Below is a breakdown of the key faces and figures that have defined Notre Dame's most competitive rivalry of the last three decades.
1 – Season in which the Irish finished in the A.P. Top 10 after losing to the Wolverines (1978). The 1992 Irish finished No. 4 overall in the A.P. (and Coach's Poll) after tying Michigan, 17-17 in South Bend. Since the series resumed in 1978, only two Irish squads that suffered losses to Michigan went on to win their season-ending bowl games ('78 and '91).
2 – Modern Era Irish coaches to defeat Michigan in their first matchup vs. the Maize & Blue. Frank Leahy, Dan Devine, Gerry Faust, Lou Holtz and Bob Davie each drew the short end of the stick in his initial tussle vs. Michigan. Recently, both Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis prevailed in their first encounters with the Wolverines.
The number also denotes Michigan head coaches that defeated the Irish in back-to-back matchups: Bo Schembechler in 1985 and '86 and Lloyd Carr in 2006 and '07. Rich Rodriguez would become the third with a win in South Bend Saturday.
3 – Matchups in the past decade decided by 25 or more points. Michigan won each of the three contests, twice winning 38-0 (2003 and 2007). Between series resumption in 1978 and the 2003 blowout, only three of 19 contests were decided by more than two touchdowns (1981, 1987, 1998 – the latter two won by the Irish). Notre Dame won handily over the Wolverines once in the past decade as well, scoring a 35-17 win in 2008.
4 – Longest winning streak by either team in the modern era. Lou Holtz's Irish defeated the Wolverines consecutively from 1987 through the 1990 season. The latter three contests were each decided by five points or fewer, with two games – 1988 and 1990 – decided by a come-from-behind score in the final two minutes.
5 – Current Irish players that have scored a touchdown vs. Michigan: Robert Hughes (2), Armando Allen, Michael Floyd, Duval Kamara and Brian Smith. Three current Wolverines have hit pay dirt vs. the Irish: Darryl Stonum, Kevin Koger and Tate Forcier.
6 – Outright victories in the last decade by the game's Vegas underdog (either ND or UM). The exceptions were the 2003 and 2007 contests, both 38-0 UM wins in Ann Arbor. In the 10 games previous dating back through the 1987 season, the game's underdog also won six contests (1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, and 1998) while losing three: 1988 (won by a slightly favored Notre Dame); 1991 (a 10-point win by mild favorite Michigan) and 1997 (a 7-point win by heavy favorite Michigan). The 1992 contest, one in which Notre Dame was a slight favorite, ended in a 17-17 tie.
7 – Games decided by a go-ahead score or missed field goal in the contest's final two minutes. John Carney missed a 45-yard field goal wide left in 1986 that would have given the Irish an upset win over the No. 3 Wolverines. Notre Dame recorded last minute go-ahead scores in 1980, 1988, and 1990 while Michigan did the same in 1994, 1999 and 2009
8 – Wins, and losses, by the Irish vs. the Wolverines in South Bend (including games played before the modern era). Since series resumption in 1978, Michigan owns a 4-8-1 mark at Notre Dame Stadium. Michigan defeated Notre Dame in South Bend in 1978 (28-14), then finished 1-3 vs. ND in South Bend during the ‘80s (surviving a 24-23 scare as the nation's No. 3 team vs. the unranked Irish in Holtz's first game as the lone victory); were then 1-2-1 in South Bend during the ‘90s (winning in '94 during Ron Powlus' first start on a game-winning field goal as time expired).
The Wolverines managed just one South Bend victory over the Irish last decade, finishing 1-3, but the lone victory was a whopper, a 47-21 upset over then-No. 2 Notre Dame.
9 – Seasons in the last 12 that Michigan has lost its first road contest. The Wolverines emerged with a road win in their first foray from Ann Arbor in 1999 and 2006 (at ND) and 2007. Michigan is 1-4 when opening in South Bend in that span, dropping decisions in 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2008.
10 – Matchups since the series resumed in which the winning team scored at least 28 points. Of note, this marks six of the last seven contests after just four victors totaled at least 28 points in the prior 19 games.
11 – Irish quarterbacks to earn a win over the Wolverines since the series resumed in 1978: Rusty Lisch, Mike Courey, Blair Kiel, Terry Andrysiak, Tony Rice (2), Rick Mirer, Kevin McDougal, Jarious Jackson, Carlyle Holiday, Brady Quinn (2), and Jimmy Clausen. Rice and Quinn are the only Irish starting quarterbacks to defeat the Wolverines twice in program history. Only current Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh handed the Irish two losses as a UM starting QB, winning in both 1985 and 1986.
12 – Seasons over the last three decades (30 football seasons) in which the Irish began a season 2-0: 1980, 82, 87, 88, 89, 90, 93, 96, 2002, 05, 06 and 08. The Irish lost three games or fewer in nine of those 12 seasons (82, 87 and 08 the exceptions. In '87, the Irish lost the Cotton Bowl to finish 8-4).
Bonus Stats of the Week:
17 – Matchups between the teams since 1978 decided by one score (8 points) or less: '79, 80, 82, 85, 86, 88, 89, 90, 92, 93, 94, 97, 99, 2002, 04, 05, 09
19 – Matchups between the teams since 1978 in which both squads entered the contest ranked (most recently 2006). The Irish hold an 11-7-1 advantage in those contests. Both teams were ranked in 14 of 16 matchups between 1987 and the aforementioned 2006 contest. Three of the last four matchups have occurred when neither squad was ranked. Prior to 2007, either ND or UM was ranked in every matchup dating back to 1909 (national polls did not exist).
On the HorizonIrish players that could reasonably accomplish statistical milestones Saturday vs. the Wolverines.
Armando Allen: With 14 receiving yards, will pass Nick Eddy (164-66) for sixth-place on the program's list for receiving yards by a running back. With seven receptions, Allen could move past Darius Walker into first-place on the program's list for receptions by a running back. Walker caught 109 passes in 36 games/three seasons (2004-06); Saturday would be Allen's 35th career contest. His single-game high is nine catches, set in 2008 at Boston College. Allen caught one pass for 0 yards in the opener vs. Purdue.
Allen has accounted for 12 touchdowns in his three-year career: seven rushing, three receiving, one kick return, and one passing score. Should he return a punt for a touchdown Saturday or at any point this season, he would become the first player in recorded program history (since 1919) to produce a touchdown by rushing, receiving, passing, on a kick return and on a punt return.
Kyle Rudolph: With 25 receiving yards, will pass Mark Bavaro (1982-85) for 7th place on the program's list for receiving yards by a tight end. Likewise, with four receptions, Rudolph would pass Tony Hunter (1979-82) for fourth place on the program list for receptions at the position.
Michael Floyd: Needs two touchdowns to tie Maurice Stovall (2002-05) for sixth on the program's career TD receptions list. At 18 receiving scores, Stovall is one TD catch behind Tom Gatewood (1969-71) for 5th place.