Notre Dame-Michigan football series to resume in 2018, 2019

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

One of college football's most storied rivalries will soon write another chapter.

The series between Notre Dame and Michigan, which took an indefinite hiatus following the 2014 season, will resume on Sept. 1, 2018, at Notre Dame Stadium, both schools announced Thursday. The teams will meet in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Oct. 26, 2019.

“Today is a great day for Notre Dame, Michigan and college football fans across the country,” Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. “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.

“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.”

The next meeting, which until recently was little more than a far-off hypothetical, will be the 43rd between the two winningest programs in college football history. Notre Dame and Michigan first met in 1887 and recently played in consecutive years between 2002 and 2014.

On Sept. 14, 2014, the Irish shut out the Wolverines 31-0 inside Notre Dame Stadium, simultaneously snapping Michigan’s NCAA-record 376-game scoring streak and scoring the most lopsided of the Irish's 17 victories in the series.

And while that would have been a satisfying closing note, seventh-year Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly voiced his intentions last month of reviving the bitter rivalry.

“We’re going to make that happen,” Kelly told the South Bend Tribune. “We’ve got some work to do, but we’re going to make it happen."

Turns out, it's happening, and sooner than most would expect.

"I’m excited to see Notre Dame and Michigan, two brand-name programs, get back together on the football field,” Kelly said in a statement on Thursday. “Both programs have a long and storied history of success. We’re talking about the two winningest programs in all of college football.

“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.”

To pull it off, Michigan discarded its home-and-home series against SEC foe Arkansas that was previously slated to kick off the 2018 and 2019 seasons, reportedly paying $2 million to shutter the series. The Wolverines also moved a 2019 home game against Rutgers to sync with Notre Dame's schedule.

The result, of course, will be the continued clash of two visible programs — and distinguished head coaches.

"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," Michigan head coach and expert attention magnet Jim Harbaugh said in a release. "We look forward to facing Coach Brian Kelly and the Irish in the coming years."

Of course, breathing new life into the stunted series was never that simple. Notre Dame's agreement with the ACC, which mandates the Irish play an average of five games per season against ACC opponents in order to remain a conference member in other sports, significantly hampers Swarbrick's scheduling flexibility. His frosty relationship with former Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, who resigned in Oct. 2014, further solidified the stalemate.

But time (and the appointment of new Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel), it seems, has healed old wounds and allowed for a shared future.

Notre Dame currently has four Michigan natives on its roster: freshmen Daelin Hayes, Khalid Kareem and Adetokunbo Ogundeji, and walk-on sophomore linebacker Brandon Hutson.

All four will experience the rivalry in 2018 and 2019.

After that, who knows? 

"We are having on-going discussions regarding extending the series with Notre Dame but nothing is finalized," Manuel said in a statement. "I look forward to working with 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."

Let the rivalry continue! ND v UM #2018 #underthelights

— Cj Prosise (@Prosisely_22) July 7, 2016

It's true.

We'll see you on Sept. 1, 2018, @umichfootball. pic.twitter.com/G1NJ70Drvm

— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) July 7, 2016

We wanted to make this game happen.

Since it's the season opener at Notre Dame, @CoachJim4UM may need to break out the khaki shorts.

— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) July 7, 2016

Notre Dame vs michigan is BACK !!! #2018

— ☘P-Money☘ (@ParkerBoudreaux) July 7, 2016

So senior year we open up with Michigan? it's litttttttt @Tkinnel_2

— Ashton White (@awhiteuno) July 7, 2016

WB2 Notre Dame's Amir Carlisle makes a catch in front of Michigan's Delonte Hollowell on Saturday. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN

Sept. 1 | MICHIGAN

Sept. 8 | BALL STATE

Sept. 15 | TBA

Sept. 22 | SYRACUSE

Sept. 29 | STANFORD

Oct. 6 | TBA

Oct. 13 | at Virginia Tech

Oct. 20 | PITTSBURGH

Oct. 27 | at Navy

Nov. 3 | at Northwestern

Nov. 10 | FLORIDA STATE

Nov. 17 | at Wake Forest

Nov. 24 | at USC