QUARTERBACK PLAY: In last year’s loss at Notre Dame, the Wolverines’ leading receiver was Devin Gardner. Now, he’s back at his natural position. Gardner has won four games as a starting QB, but none of them could be considered a signature victory. Beating Notre Dame, though, would instantly become a part of his legacy. “It’s a big game on the biggest stage in college football,” Gardner said. Tommy Rees became the No. 1 QB again for the Irish when Everett Golson was suspended from school for the fall semester. Rees made the most of the opportunity in the opener, throwing for a career-high 346 yards with three touchdowns without an interception.
JUST FOR KICKS: Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons has turned himself into an asset, matching a school record by making 14 straight field goals since a miss on Oct. 6, 2012, at Purdue. As a freshman, the Rich Rodriguez recruit was 1 of 5 on field goals. Gibbons will likely have a shot to break the tie with Remy Hamilton, who made 14 in a row in 1996, in a game that often is decided on special teams. The Irish, meanwhile, wouldn’t say two nights before the game who will attempt field goals at Michigan Stadium. Nick Tausch missed a kick miserably from 39 yards in last week’s win over Temple and Kyle Brindza couldn’t connect on a 44-yard attempt.
LEWAN VS. TUITT: Two of the top picks in the 2014 NFL draft, if Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt skips his senior season, and Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan will likely have some head-to-head matchups. Scouts in the league will be watching. “I know he’s going to bring his ‘A’ game, I definitely have to bring mine when I go against him,” Tuitt said.
BACK IN BLUE: Michigan expects to have its two top safeties, Thomas Gordon and Courtney Avery, back on the field. Gordon was suspended for the first game for violating unspecified team rules. Avery wasn’t cleared to play until this week after recovering from knee surgery The duo has combined for 40 starts, and that experience might prove to be helpful when Rees is looking downfield for Jones and the rest of his receivers.