Notre Dame - Not as Good as Michigan
By Scott Bell
As much as I love to hate Notre Dame, I have to hand it to the Irish: they have quite the football program. I mean, just take look at the numbers: 813 wins. Wow, that's a lot. That's 300 more than UCLA, South Carolina and BYU. Notre Dame also has a 74.3% winning percentage that dwarfs powerhouses Oklahoma, Texas and Florida. Actually, both totals tower above every college football program in the nation. That is, every program except one.
That would be the Michigan Wolverines.
The Irish are looking up at Michigan on both of those lists. And those aren't the only categories where Michigan tops Notre Dame. Michigan Stadium hovers over Notre Dame Stadium by about a 30,000 more fans -- a capacity our fans have no trouble filling.
The golden domes? Kind of cool, but certainly no match for the Maize and Blue's winged helmet.
And don't even mention The Notre Dame Victory March in the same sentence as The Victors.
How about head-to-head matchups? Yep, still Michigan: 18-14-1.
"You're just looking in the past," my Notre Dame friends tell me. "We're on the rise, just look at last year."
Ah, yes. Notre Dame's "breakout" season. How could I forget? Maybe because I attend a school where 9-3 isn't praised. Maybe because my school doesn't embrace seasons in which it loses to Michigan State at home, and allows itself to be embarrassed by getting the opposing school's flag planted at midfield. Or maybe it's because Michigan doesn't celebrate seasons that end with a thrashing courtesy of Ohio State.
Yeah, Notre Dame's amazing 2005 must have slipped my mind, even with the excessive media hype you guys create for yourselves. Let's be honest. Without hype, you'd be ... well, college football's equivalent of Brett Favre: Used to be great, but someone needs to give the Irish the hint that they're not what they used to be. So Notre Dame, here's the hint: it's not the 1920's anymore.
Maybe losing to Ohio State in a bowl game might have been a step up from past seasons. Losing bowl games is nothing new to the Irish -- they've now lost eight straight. And, hey, Ohio State was ranked. That's more than we can say about some of the gems our little Catholic friends from South Bend have dropped over that span.
Colorado State? Oregon State? Georgia Tech? Come on guys, just because you pad your regular season schedule with the Armys and Navys of the football world, it doesn't mean you have to stay away from marquee bowls in order to keep your "storied tradition" of playing average teams in bowl games (ironically, Michigan has played in more consecutive bowls, 31, than Notre Dame has played in total, 27).
But that's right, that's the past, I forgot I'm supposed to put the past aside. The Irish are the present, and they don't have to live off their legacy anymore. Their savior is here: Charlie Weis. What an offensive mastermind. How'd he make his name again? Oh yeah, some guy named Tom Brady led him to a couple Super Bowl wins. Where did Brady go to school again? (And on that note, wasn't Ty Willingham your savior five years ago? What ever happened to him?)
Maybe this is just sour grapes. I could be jealous. I mean, you do have something we don't have here in Ann Arbor: an annoying little leprechaun roaming the sidelines at your games. And after Saturday, you?ll have something else we don?t have this season:
Scott Bell is a junior at the University of Michigan, where he's a
senior editor and football writer for the Michigan Daily. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michigan - Complaining since the Schembechler era
By Dan Fatiago
With Michigan coming to South Bend this weekend, the Lee Corsos of the world will surely speak in glowing terms about the storied Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry. Many of these talking heads might be surprised, however, to find out that Saturday marks just the 34th meeting of the two schools. In comparison, Notre Dame has squared off with USC 77 times, while Michigan has faced Ohio State on 89 occasions.
This is not to claim that Notre Dame and Michigan are not rivals. Their close proximity to one another, frequent head-to-head recruiting battles, and status as the two most historically successful programs combine to forge a natural enmity between the Irish and the Wolverines. The lack of games between the two stems from a long tradition of Michigan avoiding match-ups with the Irish. Judging by recent history and all indicators of the future, Michigan should probably consider readopting this policy.
Since 1978, Notre Dame and Michigan have met 22 times. In recent years, Notre Dame has taken control of the rivalry, winning three of the last four meetings. Last season, the Irish controlled the game and defeated Michigan 17-10 in the Big House. Lloyd Carr has never won a game in Notre Dame Stadium. His team has not won its first road game of the season since 1999.
The bellyaching in the Michigan football office has not ceased. Bo Schembechler has voiced complaints about Notre Dame on numerous occasions. Bo resents that Notre Dame has not joined a conference. He feels the Irish would not be nearly as successful if they had to play the oh-so rigorous Big Ten schedule each year. This claim stands in stark contrast to the fact that Notre Dame consistently plays one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
Schembechler has insisted that the Notre Dame game means little to Michigan because it is not a conference game. He made it his ultimate goal to win the Big Ten each year. Perhaps this attitude is why Schembechler never won a national title in his 21 seasons as Michigan?s head man. (Notre Dame won three national titles in that span, by the way.) He did win a whole lot of Big Ten titles, though, so I guess he?s got that going for him.
Further complicating matters for the Wolverines on Saturday: they will face a superb Notre Dame coach in Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since Lou Holtz walked the sideline for the Irish. Charlie Weis has returned the Irish to their rightful place atop the college football world in just his second season. Notre Dame will unleash a loaded offense. Heisman front-runner Brady Quinn has a plethora of weapons to choose from: tailback Darius Walker, wideouts Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight, and emerging tight end John Carlson.
The Irish defense, much maligned a year ago, has played extremely well in its first two games. An experienced defensive line, a faster trio of linebackers, and a vastly improved secondary have held opponents to just 13.5 points per game. After edging out a tough win at Georgia Tech, Notre Dame issued a statement last week by annihilating Penn State at home.
Michigan, meanwhile, opened against two typically fierce out-of conference opponents: Vanderbilt and Central Michigan. Against the mighty Commodores in the Big House, the game was still in doubt in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines pulled out a 27-7 victory. Michigan did impress, though, in last week?s trouncing of Central Michigan -- surely one of the top directional schools in the country.
Fielding Yost refused to play Notre Dame after his embarrassing loss in 1909. Fritz Crisler similarly turned his back on the Irish after getting blown out in 1943. No-national-titles Bo continues to whine about Michigan having to play Notre Dame to this day. After Saturday, Carr might want to consider taking up his predecessors? mantra: Michigan should steer clear of South Bend.
Kevin Brennan is a senior at Notre Dame and writes for The Observer Online, Notre Dame's student paper.