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Brian Kelly compares Devin Gardner to Randall Cunningham

Tony Ding/Associated Press
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said that Michigan QB Devin Gardner reminds him of Randall Cunningham.

Michigan junior quarterback Devin Gardner will be making his sixth career start when the Wolverines play host to Notre Dame on Saturday night, but that didn't stop Irish coach Brian Kelly from doing a little name-dropping.

"He reminds me of Randall Cunningham back there," Kelly said of Gardner during his weekly news conference Tuesday.

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Like Cunningham, Gardner is a lanky quarterback (he's listed by Michigan as being 6-feet-4 and 210 pounds) who has a strong arm and good mobility.

Again, though, Gardner is making his sixth career start and Cunningham threw for 29,979 yards and 207 TDs and ran for another 4,928 yards and 35 TDs in a 16-year NFL career, the bulk of which (11 seasons) was spent with Philadelphia.

In his 27-game career, Gardner has thrown for 1,642 yards and 14 TDs and rushed for another 227 yards and 11 scores.

Kelly also was asked about the pending end of the Michigan-Notre Dame series. There are no scheduled games beyond next season's contest in South Bend, and Michigan coach Brady Hoke said during the offseason that the Irish were "chickening out" of continuing the series.

"This is a great and historic rivalry we'll be playing Saturday," Kelly said. "Let's get that out of the way."

Of Hoke's "chickening out" comment, Kelly said, "Look, he's talking to his alums. I didn't take anything from it."

Truthfully, the rivalry isn't all that historic. Saturday's game will be only the 41st meeting between the two Midwestern powers. The teams met just twice between 1910 and 1978, and Saturday's game will be the 12th year in a row the teams have met, which is the longest consecutive streak in series history.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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