"There's a lot of excitement around Ann Arbor," says Michigan head coach Brady Hoke.
Why shouldn't they be excited? They're meeting us - their rival - under the lights in the first night game that football stadium has ever seen. We're playing on their turf, and they have a better record than we do after we suffered a particularly heartbreaking and embarrassing loss last weekend.
And, as analyst Kirk Herbstreit says, there is a lot of confusion surrounding our quarterback situation. Brian Kelly insisted Dayne Crist was our guy, and now all of a sudden he isn't. Tommy Rees stepped up and became our new starter.
"I just wonder how it may affect the Notre Dame football team," Herbstreit says. He looks very concerned, everyone.
Well, I'm not concerned. That's a lie - I totally am. A week ago I was waxing nostalgic about my Notre Dame childhood and all the hope I continued to have even after heartbreak, but now that the failure is a little more in my face, I must admit I'm nervous.
It's one thing to lose to Skip Holtz. It is another animal entirely to lose to Michigan.
But there are a couple things keeping me breathing until I, too, am under the lights this weekend.
Firstly, Michigan hasn't even played a whole game yet - its victory came in the middle of the third quarter. They did not have to push through the rain delay. They did not discover all of the kinks in their (very new, I might add) system.
So many little things went wrong in our game last week that it's not hard to imagine what the focus has been on during these past few days of practice. We know what to work on. I hope to Touchdown Jesus we're working on it.
Secondly, I really like Rees. I like the way our team looked at the end of last year when it had no choice but to unite beneath him. I like that he is so young and so obviously not as natural of an athlete as Crist . There is something about an underdog stepping up and proving it can be done - Notre Dame has taken on that role countless times both related and unrelated to this sport we love called football. It feels right to root for Tommy.
Last week's game was a light that exposed our many flaws. It was an overwhelming experience, but there was nothing so overwhelming that I think it absolutely cannot be fixed.
I want to believe in us. I want to believe this weekend's lights will show a different team.
- Lauren Chval