The following is submitted for your consideration.
Over the past three years, Michigan/ND games have been decided by a total of 40 seconds.
Michigan finished last season highly ranked and recorded a Sugar Bowl win. ND finished just outside the top 25 with the impression that more of their problems were random than schematic or talent. Further, ND always gets a boost in early season rankings.
Additionally, Michigan opens the season facing National Champion Alabama in Dallas and then a very good Air Force squad. Meanwhile, ND opens against Navy in a sure-to-be-widely-watched game in Dublin, Ireland. They follow that up with a solid MSU and Purdue.
Most people suggest that year three is the one that sees the pieces all come together for a newly spread squad. ND is primed to make a jump from better than they seem 8-5 to high-level contender.
Because it is March, I gie you this question. If Michigan oepsn 3-0 including a win over Bama, and ND opens 3-0 with 2 wins over the B1G and a game in Ireland, does that make ND a de-facto early season championship play in game?
Obviously, a lot can change over the rest of the season, but it seems to me that the cards are lining up right for a matchup that could vault the winner into the top 2 or 3. I would LOVE to see that. It's been a long time since a Michigan/ND game was that relevant.