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Is this rivalry good for football?

By Paul Skrbina • Jul 9, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Notre Dame's on-again, off-again relationship with Michigan is on again.

College football's winningest programs announced Thursday morning that the rivalry, which has included 42 meetings and dates to 1887, will be dormant no more beginning in 2018 with the season-opener Sept. 1 in South Bend, Ind. Michigan will play host to the Irish on Oct. 26, 2019.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement that the programs have been working diligently to make the renewal happen but added that schedule commitments for both schools would make an annual series "impractical."

"We're optimistic that additional games can be scheduled in the future," Swarbrick added.

The Irish are tops all-time in winning percentage (.734) and third all-time in victories (899), while Michigan is second in winning percentage (.730) and first in victories (925). The programs last clashed in 2014, a 31-0 victory for the home team in South Bend, Ind.

The Wolverines own a 24-17 advantage in the series. The teams tied 17-17 in 1992.

Brian Kelly said last season he was optimistic the rivalry would be renewed and that the Irish would be "working hard to see if we can get that done."

"I'm excited to see Notre Dame and Michigan, two brand-name programs, get back together on the football field," Kelly said Thursday in a statement. "We wanted to make this happen for quite some time. ... This is a win for everyone involved."

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh also has expressed interest in renewing the series.

Notre Dame in 2012 announced it would opt out of the series after 2014 in part because of its obligation to play five ACC games per season as part of its agreement with the conference. Notre Dame is a member of the ACC in all sports, save for football and hockey.

Then-Michigan coach Brady Hoke said the Irish were "chickening out," and following the Wolverines' 41-30 victory in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2013, "The Chicken Dance" played over the speakers inside Michigan Stadium.

According to Sports Illustrated's Ryan Krasnoo, who first broke the news of the rivalry's renewal on Twitter late Wednesday night, Michigan will pay Arkansas $2 million to opt out of its scheduled games in 2018 and 2019.

"I'm definitely disappointed," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema told the Tribune. "It was going to be an opportunity to play one of my favorite teams from the Big Ten."

(c)2016 Chicago Tribune

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