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Irish Insights


Notre Dame-Michigan: What to look for

Notre Dame takes its last trip for the foreseeable future to Michigan Stadium tonight as the No. 14 Irish (1-0) play the No. 17 Wolverines (1-0).

The series between the programs will stop after next season's game at Notre Dame Stadium, and neither side appears to be ready to find a restart date any time soon.

Tonight's game is scheduled to kickoff at 8:12 p.m., and it is the second time these two teams are playing a night game at the Big House. The Irish and Wolverines played the first night game at Michigan Stadium in 2011, and the game drew an NCAA record crowd of 114,804.

Here some things to look for in tonight's game:

Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III vs. Michigan's interior linemen: Nix, a 6-foot-2, 357-pound senior, had one tackle in the season opener against Temple's veteran interior line. Tonight, he will be going against three linemen – left guard Graham Glasgow, center Jack Miller and right guard Kyle Kalis – making their second career starts. Nix will not only have the advantage in experience against the Wolverines' linemen, but he also has a size advantage on the 297-pound Kalis, 290-pound Miller and 305-pound Glasgow.

The quarterbacks: Tommy Rees opened Notre Dame's season by setting a career-high in passing yards with 346 against Temple. He threw three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Rees started the night game in 2011 and put the Irish ahead with a TD toss with 30 seconds to play, only to have Michigan score with 2 seconds left in the game. Devin Gardner, who started the final five games for Michigan last season, opened this season with a 162-yards passing and 52-yard rushing day in a win over Central Michigan. Gardner threw two interceptions in the season opener, and Notre Dame will try to get that number up after it had five interceptions in last season's home win over Michigan.

Defensive end Stephon Tuitt vs. left tackle Taylor Lewan: The battles between the two likely first-round NFL draft picks will be fun to watch. The 6-6, 322-pound Tuitt got his 15th career sack last week against Temple, and the 6-8, 315-pound Lewan has only given up one sack in 36 starts.

Will Notre Dame find its closing running back?: The Irish used George Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle, Cam McDaniel, Greg Bryan and Tarean Folston in last week's win over Temple. But coach Brian Kelly said he wants to find the running back that can be the go-to guy to finish games. Atkinson and Carlisle would be the likely choices to fill that closer role. Carlisle ran for a team-high 68 yards last week, and Atkinson gained 34 yards on eight carries and scored a touchdown.