The rivalry is back on.
Notre Dame and Michigan announced Thursday a home-and-home series to be played in 2018 and 2019, which will end a three-season hiatus of one of college football’s most heated, passionate rivalries.
The 2018 game will be played Sept. 1 in South Bend, with the return meeting kicking off on Oct. 26, 2019 in Ann Arbor. Michigan canceled its series against Arkansas to play Notre Dame again, and will move a scheduled game against Rutgers to Sept. 28 to play the Irish on Oct. 26 in 2019.
We wanted to make this game happen.— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) July 7, 2016
Since it's the season opener at Notre Dame, @CoachJim4UM may need to break out the khaki shorts.
"Today is a great day for Notre Dame, Michigan and college football fans across the country,” Notre Dame athletic direcctor Jack Swarbrick said. “Shortly after Warde Manuel was hired as Michigan’s athletic director, he and I began working to make this renewal of the series possible. That we could get games on the schedule as soon as ’18 and ’19 required a lot of work by our staffs and some great cooperation by the Big Ten, ACC and other schools that were on our future schedules."
Adding Michigan significantly beefs up Notre Dame’s schedules in both years. In addition to its three annual rivalry games (in San Diego vs. Navy, Stanford, at USC) and five ACC games (Syracuse, at Virginia Tech, Pitt, Florida State, at Wake Forest), Notre Dame has a home game scheduled against Ball State and a trip to Northwestern in 2018.
In 2019, Notre Dame will play road games at Louisville, Michigan, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Duke and Stanford, with home games against New Mexico, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Navy, Boston College and USC.
Notre Dame has home-and-home series against Michigan State (2016, 2017; 2026, 2027) Georgia (2017, 2019), Ohio State (2022, 2023) and Texas A&M (2024-2025) scheduled, and reportedly discussed a series with TCU, as well.
"While the schedule commitments of both Notre Dame and Michigan make an annual series impractical, we’re optimistic that additional games can be scheduled in the future," Swarbrick said.
Notre Dame and Michigan don’t have the extensive history of other rivalries lost to this decade’s spate of conference realignment (like Texas-Texas A&M, Missouri-Kansas, Pitt-West Virginia), with the two teams only meeting 42 times. Michigan owns a 24-17-1 record in the series.
"We’ve wanted to make this happen for quite some time," coach Brian Kelly said. "We wouldn’t be able to make today’s announcement without the work from Jack (Swarbrick) and other members of our administration. This is a win for everyone involved, not just those at either institution, but both fan bases and fans across the entire college football landscape.”
Notre Dame Stadium was roaring when Elijah Shumate’s pick-six-that-wasn’t ended the final meeting between the two teams — a 31-0 Notre Dame win — and Michigan Stadium blared the “Chicken Dance” over its speakers after the Wolverines beat the Irish in 2013, a callback to then-coach Brady Hoke’s comment that Notre Dame was “chickening out” of the series. “We’ve wanted to make this happen for quite some time. We wouldn’t be able to make today’s announcement without the work from Jack (Swarbrick) and other members of our administration. This is a win for everyone involved, not just those at either institution, but both fan bases and fans across the entire college football landscape.”
The relationship between Notre Dame and Michigan as the game careened toward its now-temporary end was icy, to say the least.
“It's unfortunate, such a big-time college rivalry to end like this, but it has to” former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner said in 2013. “Not on our account, though.”
Notre Dame and Michigan played every year from 2002-2014, though the series has taken plenty of breaks before. The two college football powerhouses didn’t play in 1983-1984, 1995-1996 and 2000-2001. The last time the series had more than a two-year break, though, was in a 35-year hiatus from 1943-1978.
Kelly has long been on the record expecting a return of the Michigan game, though. In 2015, he said on “The Rich Eisen Show” that a reboot of the rivalry was “trending up,” and last month, the seventh-year Irish coach reiterated that the game would eventually happen.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh only added to the optimism about a rivalry re-start when he said in June that an agreement was close between the two programs.
“It's definitely a big rivalry, I think one of the most important ones in college football," former Notre Dame defensive tackle Sheldon Day before the teams’ last meeting in 2014. "It's definitely a big rivalry and we take it serious around here."