Kelly: This is a great and historic rivalry

Bob Wieneke


About nine seconds — if that — into Brian Kelly's weekly press conference, the Notre Dame football coach addressed the comments he made Sunday that downplayed the ND-Michigan rivalry.

"This is a great and historic rivalry we'll be playing Saturday," Kelly said Tuesday. "Let's get that out of the way."

Kelly's comments about the rivalry followed those made a few months ago by Michigan coach Brady Hoke in response to ND putting the series on hiatus because of its relationship with the ACC. Hoke said then that ND was "chickening out."

Kelly, later Tuesday, was asked about those comments.

"We have not talked about it. Look, he's talking to his alums. I didn't take anything from it," Kelly said. "He's never been one to show disrespect to anybody or anything."

In non-rivalry news, Kelly said Tuesday that wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, who suffered a groin injury in Saturday's win, is cleared to practice.

The news wasn't as optimistic, however, for freshman quarterback Malik Zaire, who was sidelined last weekend because of mononucleosis. Zaire is still not cleared to play and Kelly was uncertain if the third-stringer would be able to play on Saturday. Senior Luke Massa, who had switched to wide receiver early in his career, served as the third-stringer against Temple.

One of the first Wolverines Kelly singled out Tuesday was quarterback Devin Gardner. Gardner completed 10 of 15 passes for 152 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for 52 yards.

"He reminds me of Randall Cunningham back there," Kelly said.

Michigan leads the series 23-16-1 and has won three of the last four in the series, although ND posted a 13-6 victory last season in South Bend in a game in which Denard Robinson threw five interceptions. Two years ago, Michigan posted a 35-31 win when Robinson threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree with 2 seconds left in the game.

The 14th-ranked Irish opened with a 28-6 win over Temple while No. 17 Michigan cruised past Central Michigan, 59-9. Saturday's game kicks off at 8:12 p.m. (Eastern) and will air on ESPN.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and Michigan head coach Brady Hoke chat before the game at Michigan Stadium September 10, 2011.SBT File Photo/MARCUS MARTER