ND is definitely a top-level institution, I'd say. The big difference academically between ND & Michigan is that Michigan is good at *everything*, whereas ND has strong areas, and then much more average areas (being a much smaller school).
Their stadium staff may be nice to media, but they stole my sign I tried to bring to the game last year. :( I think that's an NBC policy, though (doesn't make it less stupid, of course). The fans I sat near were all pretty nice.