Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Michigan Wolverines: Watch Live Stream Online for Free; Preview

By Melissa Siegel, Posted: 09/21/12 05:55PM EDT

The No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on their second-straight ranked opponent from the Great Lakes State on Saturday as they face the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines. The game will be broadcast live on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET, and you can also watch a live stream online for free here.

These two teams have faced off in each of the last three seasons, with all three games coming down to the final seconds. Michigan is 3-0 in those contests, with last year's victory possibly the most dramatic of all. Notre Dame took the lead on a touchdown pass to running back Theo Riddick with 30 seconds left, but Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson then led his team down the field for the winning score.

This season, Notre Dame has looked impressive so far. The Fighting Irish beat up on a weaker Navy team in week one and defeated Purdue on a last-second field goal in week two. But their first true test came last week against the-then No.10 Michigan State Spartans.

Notre Dame passed that test, beating the Spartans 20-3 and moving to 3-0 for the first time in 10 seasons. Running back Cierre Wood, playing in his first game of the season after a two-week suspension, averaged 5.6 yards per carry. Quarterback Everett Golson, who missed the end of the Purdue game with an injury, completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes but still threw for one touchdown and ran for another.

But it was the Fighting Irish defense that really led the way. The squad held the Spartans to just 237 total yards and produced four sacks against a Michigan State team that had not allowed any through its first two games. The defense was led by 12 tackles from All-American linebacker Manti Te'o, who was playing with a heavy heart after losing both his girlfriend and grandmother during the previous week.

Michigan, meanwhile, has struggled somewhat early in the season. The Wolverines were destroyed by Alabama on opening weekend, as the stingy Crimson Tide defense held the running quarterback Robinson to just 27 yards on the ground. The following week, the Wolverines barely avoided an upset against Air Force. Michigan never trailed in the game, but it was much closer than it should have been.

Michigan did look to be firing on all cylinders last week against Massachusetts, as the Wolverines scored 63 points and sat Robinson for much of the second half. Still, the Minutemen are new to the Football Bowl series, so Michigan has not yet proven itself against a quality opponent.

The Wolverines will have a chance to do so this weekend, but this may be one of the best Fighting Irish teams they have faced over the last few years. Several of the key players from last season's Notre Dame squad are still around, including Riddick and Wood. The Fighting Irish defense also looks improved from last year's version, allowing just 30 points total through three games.

Notre Dame nearly beat the Wolverines in 2011 despite some critical giveaways. But this season, the Fighting Irish are tied for 11th in the nation with a +5 turnover margin. If Notre Dame can continue to force opponent mistakes while limiting turnovers of its own, it has a great shot of ending its three-year losing streak on Saturday.

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