YOU CAN feel it the minute you leave the Indiana Toll Road at Exit 77. You have entered the Domer Dimension, a realm of virtue, tradition and iconic architecture, from the Golden Dome to the Grotto to the Word of Life mural—a 134-foot mosaic otherwise known as Touchdown Jesus, looming over the north end of Notre Dame Stadium. But the mystique of this place is created most of all by students and alumni, a classy (if occasionally smug) contingent that has little use for the verbal abuse heaped on visitors at other schools. Between walk-through and kickoff, opposing players hear it a hundred times: "Welcome to Notre Dame!"
Even when the Irish are down—and this year they are not—they have one intangible no other school can claim. "God doesn't care" if the Irish win or lose, Lou Holtz once allowed, a twinkle in his eye, "but I believe His mother does."
BEVO AND THE SOONER SCHOONER
Red River Rivalry
BEST NEUTRAL-SITE GAMES
Sept. 3: LSU-OREGON, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Oct. 29: FLORIDA-GEORGIA, EverBank Field, Jacksonville
Dec. 10: ARMY-NAVY, FedExField, Landover, Md.
THIS ANNUAL blood match between the Longhorns and the Sooners is contested in the recently renovated Cotton Bowl, with the State Fair of Texas as a gaudy, cacophonous backdrop. Before entering the divided stadium—burnt orange on one side of the 50, crimson on the other—partisans of both programs are free to admire prizewinning livestock, ingest infarction-inducing foodstuffs (deep-fried S'mores Pop-Tart, anyone?) and take a stomach-dropping ride on the 212-foot Texas Star, the tallest Ferris wheel in North America.