The hiatus didn’t last very long.
The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry was pronounced dead by those involved after things came to a screeching end in 2014. But just two years later, the schools announced Thursday that the series is back on.
The Wolverines and Fighting Irish announced a home-and-home to be played during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The first matchup is the 2018 season opener on Sept. 1, 2018, in South Bend. The 2019 game will be played on Oct. 26, 2019, in Ann Arbor.
"This is a game that holds great significance for the student-athletes and coaches who compete on the field," Michigan athletics director Warde Manuel said in the announcement. "A great deal of credit goes to coach (Jim) Harbaugh and coach (Brian) Kelly for initiating the discussion of scheduling this series. This rivalry is also important for the fans of both programs, and we look forward to renewing one of college football’s great rivalries."
"The competition between Michigan and Notre Dame has created a fair, healthy and productive rivalry over time, and it brings out the best in both programs," Harbaugh said. "We look forward to facing coach Brian Kelly and the Irish in the coming years."
Manuel added that there are ongoing discussion to schedule more games beyond this two-game series.
"We are having ongoing discussions regarding extending the series with Notre Dame, but nothing is finalized," Manuel said. "I look forward to working with (Notre Dame athletics director) Jack Swarbrick to try to accomplish this common goal while striving to achieve a balance of seven home games each season. Scheduling is a fluid process, and we need to be strategic in the way we schedule out into the future."
To make room for these games, Michigan cancelled its already-scheduled series with SEC opponent Arkansas.
It seems a new regime at Michigan makes all the difference. With no Brady Hoke to call Notre Dame chicken and no Dave Brandon to boast about how Michigan doesn’t need Notre Dame, things resumed quickly.
And even though the Irish said the move to stop the rivalry series was about strengthening their schedule, Harbaugh has put the Wolverines back in the national spotlight and back among national-title contenders in lightning-quick fashion, meaning having Michigan on the schedule is now highly desirable for teams looking to impress the College Football Playoff selection committee.
The last meeting didn’t go so well for Michigan, with Notre Dame beating up on Hoke’s team, 31-0, back in 2014. The last game at Michigan Stadium featured a significantly better 41-30 outcome for the Wolverines.
The rivalry between two of the winningest programs in college football history dates back to 1887 and has featured 42 editions, with games every season between 2002 and 2014 and most seasons since the late 1970s. Michigan holds a 24-17-1 all-time edge.