The historic rivalry resumes on Sept. 1. Here's why it's the first time they'll meet since 2014.

By Kaelen Jones
September 01, 2018

On Sept. 22, 2012, Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick walked along the field at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind., and approached then-Michigan AD David Brandon. It was roughly an hour before the No. 11 Fighting Irish and No. 18 Wolverines were scheduled to play, when Swarbrick handed Brandon a letter that served as a three-year notice indicating that Notre Dame intended to cancel football games scheduled against Michigan between the 2015-17 seasons.

The reason: Notre Dame had announced 10 days earlier that all sports except football would be leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

As part of the agreement, the Fighting Irish football team would play five games against ACC schools each year, necessitating a schedule revamp. Notre Dame valued its football rivalries with Navy, Stanford and USC as its most important, leaving Michigan the odd program out of its new schedule.

"The decision to cancel games in 2015-17 was Notre Dame's and not ours," Brandon would later say in a statement.

At a luncheon, then-Wolverines head-coach Brady Hoke told a crowd the Irish were "chickening out" in ditching their series while continuing to play Michigan State and Purdue.

In 2007, Notre Dame and Michigan had agreed to extend their series through into the 2031 season. The agreement provided both programs the ability to opt out with three years' notice as their contract was structured on a three-year rolling basis. An automatic rollover provision added a year to the series each time a game was played.

"We needed to avoid the automatic addition of additional games until we can get a better understanding of our available inventory in those years—an understanding that will develop as we implement our five-game scheduling commitment to the Atlantic Coast Conference," Notre Dame senior associate AD John Heisler said in a statement, per ESPN.

"While this move is a necessary precaution as we begin the process of meeting our new scheduling commitment to the ACC, please know that Notre Dame very much values its relationship with Michigan," Swarbrick wrote in the letter to Brandon, "and we look forward to working with you to ensure that our great football rivalry can continue."

Eventually, their great rivalry would resume.

In July 2016, the two schools announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2018 and 2019.

The first meeting takes place on primetime in the opening week of the upcoming season, with Michigan—led by coach Jim Harbaughvisiting Brian Kelly and Notre Dame in South Bend on Sept. 1. The next matchup will take place on Oct. 26, 2019, at The Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The near four-year hiatus between the two schools marks the longest break they've taken from facing one another since 1978. The rivalry first began in 1887.

The last time they met, Notre Dame beat Michigan, 31-0.

The Wolverines enter leading the all-time head-to-head matchup with a 24-17-1 record.

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