Rivalry talk, or non-rivalry talk, is just about over. No. 14 Notre Dame is in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the final scheduled time, looking to make it two in a row against No. 17 Michigan when the teams kick things off at 8:12 p.m. ET.
Expect another charged atmosphere surrounding the Big House, beginning with College GameDay, which starts at 9 a.m. ET. Will we then see another NCAA-record crowd, as was the case two years ago, when 114,804 fans packed Michigan Stadium? I would not rule out that chance, especially with both teams coming in ranked and with a win likely giving one team a huge boost toward a potential BCS bowl berth down the line.
A few things of note for later tonight:
Both redshirt freshman running back Will Mahone and redshirt sophomore receiver DaVaris Daniels will play. Mahone, who had a high ankle sprain, adds one more body to a stable of running backs who split carries throughout the Irish's Week 1 win against Temple. While there appeared to be a clear distinction between the upperclassmen (George Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle, Cam McDaniel) and the youngsters (Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston), Mahone could figure to see some action, as he impressed the staff throughout camp and made a number of nifty plays in front of reporters whenever we were allowed inside the Labar Practice Complex. Coach Brian Kelly has said there is no true pecking order just yet, but I think a game like tonight's could go a long way toward clearing up the picture moving forward.
Daniels, meanwhile, caught two 32-yard touchdown passes last week from Tommy Rees, the first two scores of his career. Daniels and Rees roomed together during the Irish's first week of training camp, off-site at Shiloh Park in Marion, Ind., and Daniels figures to be the offense's main deep threat this season. He pulled up lame in the second quarter after breaking free for what looked destined to be his third touchdown grab of the half, and Kelly had said Daniels suffered a slight Grade 1 groin injury and probably could have kept going, instead sitting out the second half for precautionary reasons.
We will be chatting on ESPN.com throughout the game, with yours truly manning the fourth-quarter time slot with Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett, so keep it here to follow along.