Saturday will be the 44th meeting between rivals No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 19 Michigan. The Wolverines hold a 24-18-1 lead in the all-time series and have a a 14-7 advantage in games played in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the site of Saturday's tilt. In fact, the teams have not even met in the Big House since 2013, three meetings ago.
The Irish were off last week after holding off a late charge from another rival, USC, in South Bend, Indiana, on Oct. 12, while Michigan enters Saturday night's contest under the lights in the Big House after falling a few yards short of a game-tying score against Penn State in primetime last Saturday night.
Both teams are in desperate need of a big victory, but only one will be able to after the dust settles on Saturday night. Who will that be exactly? Let's take a closer look at this matchup and make some expert picks against the spread.
Notre Dame: There were always going to be two spots on Notre Dame's schedule that would dictate where the 2019 team stood in the College Football Playoff picture: at Georgia on Sept. 21 and at Michigan on Oct. 26. These two games not only represent the two toughest opponents on the schedule but data points that would be used to measure Notre Dame against the best teams in the country. Thanks to traditional rivals USC and Stanford having down seasons and a weak draw out of the ACC, the Irish need to pick up a quality victory in the eyes of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
If Notre Dame splits the two premier road games with a win at Michigan, then it maintains a place at the table as a finalist of sorts for one of the four College Football Playoff spots. It needs to continue winning and probably needs some help to make the final four, but a one-loss profile with a loss at Georgia in Athens balanced by a win against Michigan in Ann Arbor is going to make a decent case when its time to start splitting hairs between one-loss teams for the final playoff spots.
Michigan: A recent report from FootballScoop indicated that Jim Harbaugh had "representatives" eying an "exit strategy" from Michigan that could include going back to the NFL. That report prompted a letter from Harbaugh to the parents of Michigan's current players, calling the claims "total crap" and "an annual strategy driven by our enemies to cause disruption to our program." Harbaugh also left his door open for questions from the parents and noted that he has no "representative."
That serves as the backdrop to one of the biggest games of the season for Michigan in one of the biggest seasons for Harbaugh since he arrived in Ann Arbor. A total reshuffling of the offensive staff that included handing the reigns over to Josh Gattis put that group in the spotlight and through the first half of the season the results against top-end teams -- a 35-14 loss at Wisconsin and a 10-3 win at home against Iowa -- left something to be desired. But the light bulb might have come on for Shea Patterson and the offense in the comeback effort against Penn State, as evidenced in back-to-back touchdown drives in the last 20 minutes that were nearly followed by a third straight score before Ronnie Bell's drop in the end zone.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 26 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Michigan Stadium -- Ann Arbor, Michigan
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Game prediction, picks
I think Michigan might have turned a corner offensively and will have an opportunity to build on that success against a Notre Dame defense that is good, but not elite, particularly against teams with top-tier athleticism. Harbaugh probably won't win the Big Ten or even beat Ohio State this year, but this can be the kind of signature, back-against-the-wall win that showcases the culture he's established in the program. Pick: Michigan (-2.5)
So what CFB picks can you make with confidence in Week 9? And which line is Vegas way off on? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams win and cover the spread in every game this week, all from a proven computer model that has returned over $4,200 in profit over the past four seasons.