- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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Saturday night, No. 17 Michigan and No. 14 Notre Dame face off for the last time in Michigan Stadium. Several words have been exchanged by the coaches and players leading up to this game, but Saturday night -- under the lights -- will afford both teams the opportunity to back up what has been said.
Both teams enter the game with a big win over a smaller opponent in week one, and week two should offer higher competition.
Up front, Notre Dame’s talented defensive line, anchored by the 340-pound Louis Nix III, should present a challenge for the Wolverines offensive line, which features three interior linemen who saw their first starts last week. All-American Taylor Lewan will have his hands full with Stephon Tuitt as the two battle in front of what will likely be countless NFL scouts.
Alternatively, the Michigan defensive line will also be able to measure itself up against a stout Notre Dame offensive front. In a 59-9 win over Central Michigan, the Wolverines’ defensive front looked vastly improved with not only its four-man rush but also with more blitz schemes -- expect defensive coordinator Greg Mattison to get creative with what he throws at Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees.
Rees will be facing a Michigan secondary which didn’t play either starting safety against Central Michigan. However, strong safety Thomas Gordon returns from his one-game suspension and free safety Courtney Avery returns after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago.
Devin Gardner's challenge on offense doesn’t get any easier with Notre Dame’s stout front seven and its talented secondary. But in front of a home crowd that could likely surpass the stadium’s record (set two years ago at this same game -- 114,804), Gardner will have plenty of support.
The two teams face off at 8 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN.