In alphabetical order, Michigan has four rivals: Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, and Ohio. As for importance, The Game sits up top, the Little Brown Jug rests at the bottom, and Michigan State and Notre Dame shift between spots in the middle, depending on who you ask. Two fight over trophies with the Wolverines, one showcases the greatest rivalry in sports history, and the last, the oldest, the one we'll be watching on Saturday before it enters its eighth break and likely third hiatus to exceed a decade, pits the two programs with the highest all-time winning percentages in college football history against one another.
By the time the Wolverines and Fighting Irish played their inaugural match in 1887, Michigan, as a program, had eight years of football experience under its belt against 12 different foes, while Notre Dame didn't even know how to play the game yet. Lucky for them, the Wolverines were kind enough to help out their 13th opponent in history by teaching before beating the Fighting Irish in Notre Dame's inaugural game.
There's a lot at stake on Saturday, including the simple fact that no team wants to lose the second game of the season. Drew's already talked about how the winner of the game will hold the highest winning percentage of all-time for at least the next week. But whoever comes out on top Saturday night will also hold the edge in series games in South Bend. At the Big House, the Wolverines hold a commanding 14-7 record against the Fighting Irish, capped by Michigan's 41-30 victory last year in Under the Lights II. But at Notre Dame Stadium, both teams are tied with nine wins apiece and one tie between them.
Granted, the Fighting Irish didn't win at home until after the series resumed in 1978 and have gone 9-5-1 since against the Wolverines, but for two teams who like to tout historical wins, the three Michigan victories in South Bend from 1887-88 count, dang it. And because of that, the winner of Saturday's game also lays claim to being the best in South Bend. Michigan already edges Notre Dame by a significant margin in the overall series at 24-16-1, but one more win on the road would be nice to hold over the Fighting Irish for as long as this rivalry remains on break.
Speaking of the break, I've already mentioned how this will "technically" be the eighth break between Michigan and Notre Dame, the other seven being from 1888-98, 1902-08, 1909-42, 1943-78, 1983-84, 1995-96, and 2000-01. There have been 41 games played between these interruptions. So in the spirit of this rich rivalry, come along as I review each game in this rich rivalry, from the Wolverines as teachers to last year's win at the Big House:
1887: So It Begins
Michigan at Notre Dame, 8-0, a.k.a. Michigan schools Notre Dame
If you'd like a in-depth recap of how it all started, read starting from the middle column of page 62 in The Michigan Argonaut, Volume 6. The language is more elegant than anything I've ever written. However, to sum up the beginnings of the rivalry, Michigan traveled to South Bend for the first game in Notre Dame football history. The first half of the contest consisted of a practice game, where the Wolverines swapped six players with the Fighting Irish. After playing teacher for a while, the players returned to their teams, and in the second half of the game, Michigan scored eight times to Notre Dame's zero. In what I hope was a veiled jab at the Fighting Irish, the Argonaut writes, "The Notre Dame team has good material in its players and will undoubtedly put up a strong game next fall." Considering Michigan won the next seven meetings, 19th-century sarcasm it must have been.
1888: Back-to-back (Albeit, not as joyous as that link)
Michigan at Notre Dame, 26-6, a.k.a. BOO. Be Better at Winning, Michigan.
Michigan at Notre Dame, 10-4, a.k.a. This Didn't Happen
In the notes following the football section of the aforementioned Argonaut, Notre Dame was said to be "very anxious to arrange a game with U. of M. next fall." So anxious, apparently, that two games were scheduled. The games were played on consecutive days - Friday and Saturday - with the Wolverines taking both contests. However, the Fighting Irish came away with more joy than the Wolverines after the weekend series. With six in the first game and four in the second, Notre Dame had scored the first points against Michigan since Chicago in 1884. This was monumental in its own right, but in the second game, the Fighting Irish gained their first lead as a football team following what was essentially a safety. If you read accounts of the games, such as those in John Kryk's Natural Enemies, you'll discover that there are disputes over whether or not Michigan cheated to gain the victories. However, none of that matter since the Michigan faithful viewed both wins as losses, so much so that the team was booed upon arrival back in Ann Arbor. Beyond a "proper razzing," the second game was considered such a failure that Michigan didn't acknowledge it in its record books for over half of a century. The Wolverines wouldn't play another game in South Bend for 54 years after the rough weekend.
1889-1897: The First Break (You are lead-based paint Notre Dame)
Football wasn't football as we know it today at this point in time, and scheduling didn't follow a yearly format. During these nine years, both programs tried to arrange a game with the other, but something always got in the way, whether it was a lack of willngness, financial issues, or the fact that Notre Dame only played home games until 1897.
1898-1902: Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back (It wasn't today's rivalry yet)
1898: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 23-0, a.k.a. Back in the Saddle
1899: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 12-0, a.k.a. Let's Pick It Up
1900: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 7-0, a.k.a. Too Close for Comfort
1902: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 23-0, a.k.a. Neutral Satisfcation
The Wolverines welcomed the Fighting Irish to Ann Arbor three times in three years from 1898-1900, shutting them out each time but winning by increasingly narrow margins. Michigan looked weaker in each consecutive match while Notre Dame started to prove itself a formidable foe. That's when Fielding Yost stepped in, taking over the program in 1901 and starting his vaunted "Point-a-Minute" squads that won four National Championships in a row from 1901-04. After a gap year in 1901, Yost led his Wolverines to Toledo, OH for a neutral site meeting against the Fighting Irish. For an '02 Michigan squad that had scored 315 points in the first four games of the season, a 23-0 victory appears to be a letdown on the surface. However, the Detroit Free Press following the victory quotes Yost as saying, "I am satisfied. The score is just about what I though it would be after I had taken a look at the field [which was a slippery clay mess]."
1903-07: Let's take a break (again)
Michigan dominated the college football scene in 1903 and '04 before losing their first game in four years in 1905. It doesn't seem like they had the time or interest to play a lowly Notre Dame team. After Michigan became Independent following the 1906 due to numerous issues Yost had with the Western Conference, such as the institution of a three-year rule limiting the time players could be on a football team and forcing a shorter schedule, nobody in the conference wanted to play the Wolverines. In 1910, the Ann Arbor Daily Times News looked back at the situation, commenting: "The Wolverines had to do something for a game that would attract some interest, and the game with Notre Dame was scheduled as the best way out of a bad matter."
1908: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 12-6, a.k.a. Yawn...
1909: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 3-11, a.k.a. ...[choking noises]
After winning on three field goals in 1908, the Wolverines upped their record against the Irish to 8-0, taking the games by a combined score of 121-16. Then, in 1909, the unthinkable happened as Notre Dame topped Michigan in Ann Arbor. It can be argued that the moment was the biggest in Notre Dame football history up to that point, both for the victory and the fact that the nickname "Fighting Irish" stemmed from the win. Recapping the game, Detroit Free Press writer E.A. Batchelor referred to the Notre Dame players as the "Fighting Irishmen," and the rest is history.
The happenings from 1909 to 1910 between Michigan and Notre Dame created the intensity within the rivalry that continues to this day. The teams were scheduled to meet in 1910, but Yost accused the Irish of trying to use ineligible players (a claim he harped about for many years after). When Notre Dame refused to sit the players in question, Yost spurned the Irish, cancelling the game, and later, declining to schedule any future contests. Yost went so far as to convince other Western Conference members to boycott the Irish, forcing Notre Dame to look elsewhere for opponents. During the third hiatus, the Irish started their biggest rivalry (USC) as well as another prominent one (Navy). So, yeah Notre Dame, you're welcome for Michigan being the catalyst for everything you hold near and dear to your heart.
1942: The Warmup
Michigan at Notre Dame, 32-20, a.k.a. Yost is Gone, You Can Come Out Now
By the time 1942 rolled around, it had been 16 years since Yost stopped coaching and two since he retired from Athletic Director at Michigan. It had also been 54 years since Michigan played football last in South Bend. Fitz Crisler had taken over the football team and arranged for a home-and-home series in '42 and '43. In each of his first four years, Crisler coached the Wolverines to the cusp of a conference title, finishing second thrice and third once. The Irish were picking up steam as well, finishing ranked in five of the previous six seasons heading into '42. When the teams squared off in the eighth game of the season, Michigan ranked #6 with a 5-2 record while Notre Dame sat at #4 with a 5-1-1 mark. The game was nothing of note, other than the fact that it reunited the two teams on the gridiron. The real excitement happened a year later, hence calling this game "The Warmup."
1943: LET'S GO
Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 12-35, a.k.a. The First Top-Ranked Showdown
Michigan and Notre Dame met in '43 as the top-ranked teams in the country. To start the season, the Wolverines dismantled Camp Grant (26-0) and Western Michigan (51-7) before beating Northwestern in smaller fashion, 21-7. As for the Irish, they demolished Pitt 41-0 before trouncing Georgia Tech 55-13. Heading into the game, the Irish held the #1 ranking even though they had one less win the the Wolverines. However, Michigan was no match for Notre Dame that day. The Irish dominated from start to finish, jumping out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter, holding a 21-6 advantage at halftime, and scoring 14 unanswered points in the third before Michigan earned six meaningless points in the fourth. Notre Dame powered through their entire schedule behind '43 Heisman Trophy winner Angelo Bertelli before dropping the season finale against Great Lakes. In the end, the loss didn't matter as the AP awarded the Irish their first National Championship that year. As for Michigan, they won the rest of their contests, earned a share of the Big Ten title, and finished #3 in the polls.
Following the home-and-home, the powers that be went back to resenting each other to the point of the series going on its fourth and longest hiatus.This wasn't helped by the National Championship dispute of 1947. For those unaware of what happened, here's the short of it: both teams traded the #1 and #2 rankings all year, both finished the regular season 9-0, and both deserved the title. At the time, the National Champion was determined by an AP vote before bowl games, which Notre Dame won. However, Michigan went on to demolish USC in the Rose Bowl to the tune of 49-0, much more impressive than the Irish's 38-7 victory over the Trojans in the season finale. This sparked arguments over who was the better team, and the AP decided to hold a post-bowl vote. This time, Michigan came out on top. Crisler commented on the vote, saying that one "couldn't have made a mistake if they had picked either team." Notre Dame's President, Father Cavanagh, responded that Notre Dame felt "grateful for the magnanimous statement of Coach Crisler." However, a nationwide debate over who was the better team was created in '47, and both teams lay claim to that year's National Championship to this day.
1978-82: They're Back!
In 1969, both schools agreed to start back up again with a four-game series beginning in 1978. The two Athletic Directors - Don Canhmam for Michigan and Moose Krause for Notre Dame - decided to extend the contract for six more games between 1984 and '89.
1978: Michigan at Notre Dame, 28-14, a.k.a. The Rick Leach Show or The Reunion
In the first game since the '43 letdown, Michigan followed the lead of quarterback Rick Leach to victory over the defending National Champion and Joe Montana-led Irishmen. Notre Dame led 14-7 at halftime, but Leach rebounded in the second half. After scoring a rushing touchdown and going just 3 for 14 passing in the first half, Leach completed 5 of 6 passes in the second half with six going for touchdowns. Michigan went on to win 28-14.
1979: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 10-12, a.k.a. Illegal a Year Later
The '79 game was Notre Dame's season opener, but the second game for Michigan. Both teams were ranked in the top ten, with the Wolverines at #6 and the Irish at #9. The low-scoring game ended on a blocked field goal by Notre Dame as an Irishmen stepped on the back of a Wolverine to gain leverage. A rule prohibiting this came into effect the following season. Michigan led 10-6 at halftime but couldn't get anything going after the break as Notre Dame won 12-10.
1980: Michigan at Notre Dame, 27-29, a.k.a. Harry Oliver's Atonement
'80 pitted #12 Michigan against #8 Notre Dame. The teams traded blows throughout the contest. After nothing happened in the first quarter, the Irish took a 14-0 lead in the second before the Wolverines scored two touchdowns in less than a minute and a half to tie the game at halftime. Following the break, Michigan scored on the opening drive to go up 21-14. Notre Dame responded on an interception return late in the third but missed the extra point, 21-20. With just over three minutes to play, the Irish scored again to take the lead but failed on the two-point conversion, 26-21. Michigan moved down the field to Notre Dame's four-yard line with less than a minute to play. A tipped pass to running back Butch Woolfolk found the hands of tight end Craig Dunaway, and the Wolverines regained the lead, 28-26. After a touchback, the Fighting Irish rallied back down the field, assisted by a questionable pass interference call which Bo thought "without it, they wouldn't have scored at all." Still, the final play of the game was an unlikely 51-yard field goal into the wind, but Notre Dame kicker Harry Oliver made up for the missed extra point by legging the pigskin through the uprights for the 29-28 victory.
1981: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 25-7, a.k.a. Defensive Domination
1982: Michigan at Notre Dame, 23-17, a.k.a. Michigan Rushing M.I.A. at Night
The '81 and '82 games weren't all that special. The Wolverines rebounded against the Irish in '81 after starting the season at #1 in the country and falling 21-14 to Wisconsin. Notre Dame had shifted into the top spot after beating LSU 27-9 in the season opener. However, Michigan's defense dominated the meeting by failing to allow a first down through the middle quarters en route to the Wolverines' 25-7 win. '82 saw a reversal of roles as Notre Dame hosted Michigan in its first ever night game. The Wolverines rushed for a measly 41 yards before succumbing to defeat, 23-17.
1983-84: A Brief Break
The fifth break was a short one.
1985-94: IT'S ON!
1985: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 20-12, a.k.a. Boring. Michigan Wins.
In the season opener, both teams met after having mediocre seasons at best. Michigan had its worst season under Bo in '84, finishing 6-6, while Notre Dame was middle of the pack at 7-5. After falling behind 9-3 at halftime, the Wolverines took control in the second half to win the game. Both teams' seasons followed the trend of this game, as Michigan finished 10-1-1 and ranked #2 while Notre Dame slipped to 5-6 on the year.
1986: Michigan at Notre Dame, 24-23, a.k.a. The Only One-Point Game
Out of all the close games in this rivalry, only the '86 game finished with a one-point margin of victory. This was Lou Holtz's first game as Notre Dame's head coach, and he probably should have came out on top. The Irish never punted while gaining over 450 yards against Michigan's defense. However, turnovers proved to be the downfall of Notre Dame. The Wolverines held a narrow 24-20 lead heading into the fourth. An Irish field goal cut that lead to one, but Notre Dame's kicker, John Carney, couldn't replicate Oliver's '80 heroics, and a 45-yard field goal attempt with 17 seconds remaining missed the mark, allowing Michigan to escape South Bend with victory.
1987: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 7-26, a.k.a. Turnover Fest
#9 ranked Michigan decided to shoot themselves in the foot against #16 Notre Dame in this one. The Wolverines coughed the ball over to the Irish seven times, four of those turned into scores, and the outcome writes itself. It was Bo's first of three losses in home openers, the other two being against #1 Miami in '88 and #1 Notre Dame in '89.
1988: Michigan at Notre Dame, 17-19, a.k.a. The Origins of Hero Ho
A kicker without an athletic scholarship propelled #13 Notre Dame over #9 Michigan in '88. Reggie Ho booted four field goals - the first four of his career - and Ricky Watters provided an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown to account for the Irish's 19 points. Trailing 13-0, the Wolverines scored a touchdown in the second and third quarters. Trading field goals, Ho gave the Irish their final lead with 73 seconds remaining in the game. Michigan kicker Mike Gillette had a chance to win the game on the final play but missed a 48-yard attempt.
1989: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 19-24, a.k.a. Rocket Returns in Bo's Last
In Bo's final season, there'd be no hopes of a perfect record, thanks to Irish wideout Raghib "Rocket" Ismail. The teams met yet again as top-ranked foes, with Notre Dame holding the top spot after winning the National Championship in '88, and Michigan right behind them. With the score 7-6 in favor of the Irish at the start of the third quarter, Ismail took the second-half kickoff 88 yards for the score. Notre Dame added a field goal to go up 17-6 heading into the fourth. The Wolverines battled back with an early fourth quarter touchdown to trim the deficit to 17-12 after a failed two-point conversion. But that'd be as close as Michigan got to the Irish in the fourth as Ismail returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for the game-winning points. The Wolverines scored again with a little over four minutes remaining, but it didn't matter. The damage had been done thanks to Rocket Ismail.
1990: Michigan at Notre Dame, 24-28, a.k.a. Irish Bookends
For the second consecutive year, the Fighting Irish came into the season opener against the Wolverines as the top-ranked team in the country and beat Michigan in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame showed up on offense for only two quarters - the first and last - but it was all they needed to eke out the victory. The Irish sprinted out to a 14-3 lead in the opening frame behind a pair of rushing touchdowns before the Wolverines tallied three unanswered scores to take a 24-14 lead into the fourth. Unfortunately, that was Michigan's last gasp. Notre Dame buried the Wolverines with two fourth quarter touchdowns, the final coming with 1:40 left to play.
1991: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 24-14, a.k.a. The Catch
When #3 Michigan faced off against #7 Notre Dame, Desmond Howard was already in the Heisman conversation after putting up four touchdowns against Boston College the week before in the season opener, including a highlight reel, 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He cemented himself as the front-runner after "The Catch." With the Wolverines leading 17-14 and 9:02 left in the game, Michigan head coach Gary Moeller decided to roll the dice and go for it all on fourth and one from Notre Dame's 25-yard line. This is what happened next. The touchdown sealed the victory for the Wolverines, ended a four-game winning streak in the rivalry for the Irish, and Desmond Howard set himself for winning the Heisman Trophy that year.
1992: Michigan at Notre Dame, 17-17, a.k.a. Like Kissing Your Sister
Ties aren't fun. Michigan recorded three in '92. This wasn't one the more memorable games in this rivalry as a whole, but two things make it stand out: 1) It will forever be the only tie in the series, unless college football gets rid of overtime in the future, and 2) Notre Dame running back Reggie Brooks scored a touchdown unconscious. Michigan needed a lesson in wrapping the legs after watching that play.
1993: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 23-27, a.k.a. Too Little, Too Late
ABC presented this game, a showdown between #3 Michigan and #11 Notre Dame, with a neat intro. Unfortunately, that's the only part that may be worth remembering to Wolverines fans. The Irish upset Michigan and ended a 20-game winning streak during the regular season for the Wolverines. Notre Dame held a 14-0 lead at halftime and a 27-10 lead in the third quarter. Michigan would narrow the gap late in the game, to no avail. A failed onside kick attempt sealed the victory for Notre Dame
1994: Michigan at Notre Dame, 26-24, a.k.a. A Hero, Not a Goat
After failing to win six of the last seven games against Notre Dame, Michigan turned the tides of the series slightly in their direction with a last-second victory over the Irish in South Bend. Both teams traded scores throughout the contest until Michigan scored 13 unanswered points in the late third and fourth quarters to take a six-point lead, 23-17, with 2:15 left to play. Notre Dame stormed down the field with a Wolverines interference penalty on third and six from Michigan's 15-yard line gave the Irish first and goal from the 2-yard line. They'd score a go-ahead touchdown two plays later to take a 24-23 lead. The Wolverines gained possession from the ensuing kickoff at their 17-yard line with 52 seconds remaining. Senior quarterback Todd Collins led Michigan down the field with some clutch passing to set up a 42-yard attempt for kicker Remy Hamilton with seconds remaining. Hamilton wasn't named until pre-game, and prior to Notre Dame, he had only attempted one field goal in his career. Against the Irish, he went 4 for 5 with the fourth being the biggest kick for Michigan in the rivalry's history. Remy nailed the 42-yarder to give the Wolverines a narrow victory they definitely needed in the series, and he summarized his performance: "I'm a hero now. I could be a goat next week."
1995-96: Another Brief Break
The sixth break was as short as the fifth break.
1997-99: How You Doin, Notre Dame?
1997: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 21-14, a.k.a. One in the Twelve
In the third week of their undefeated and National Championship winning '97 season, the #6 ranked Wolverines escaped a fearless, unranked Irish squad. It was the first time since the creation of the AP poll that Notre Dame traveled to The Big House unranked. That didn't matter, however, as the Irish jumped out to a 14-7 lead by halftime. Michigan responded 24 seconds into the second-half with a game-tying pass from quarterback Brian Griese to wideout Tai Streets. A little over five minutes later, back Chris Floyd scored on a 14-yard run to give the Wolverines a 21-14 lead they wouldn't relinquish despite three turnovers in the fourth quarter by the offense.
1998: Michigan at Notre Dame, 20-36, a.k.a. Back to Earth
Michigan - the defending National Champs and ranked #5 - received a wake up call in the '98 season opener in South Bend. #22 Notre Dame upset the Wolverines behind 24 unanswered points - aided by two Michigan fumbles - to start the second half. Michigan struggled to find consistency in a field goal kicker, using both Kraig Baker and Jay Feely in the game. Baker missed two field goals while Feely missed one and had another blocked. The 36 points scored by the Irish is currently the most they've ever scored in a game against Michigan.
1999: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 26-22, a.k.a. Premature Celebration
Once again, both teams entered a season-opener in Ann Arbor against each other ranked: Michigan at #7 and Notre Dame at #16. This game stands out due to an excessive celebration penalty against the Irish changing the momentum late in the game. After scoring to take a 20-19 lead with 4:08 remaining, Notre Dame opted to go for two, succeeded, but celebrated a bit too hard and a bit too early, earning themselves a 15-yard penalty enforced on the kickoff. This allowed Michigan to return the ensuing kickoff the their 43-yard line with 3:55 remaining. Tom Brady led the Wolverines down inside the Irish 5-yard line before Anthony Thomas found the end zone on third and goal. Notre Dame failed to come back on their final drive, and the Wolverines went home as victors.
2000-01: Yet Another Brief Break
The seventh break was as long as the sixth break and as short as the fifth break.
2002-14: LET'S GET IT ON!
2002: Michigan at Notre Dame, 23-25, a.k.a.
#7 visited #20 in the hopes of restarting the rivalry after a two-year break with a win. ESPN summarized all you need to know about this mistake-laden contest:
Each team lost three fumbles and had an interception. There were 18 penalties, two of which went against Michigan and resulted in a safety and touchdown late in the first half that put the Irish ahead 16-7.
Michigan rallied back with ten unanswered points to start the second half, giving them a 17-16 lead heading into the fourth. But the Irish answered in the fourth with an early touchdown and a field goal following a Chris Perry fumble. The Wolverines found the end zone once more, but a John Navarre pass didn't find Braylon Edwards on a two-point conversion attempt. Navarre would later throw an interception with seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Irish.
2003: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 38-0, a.k.a. Modern Day Shutout
Chris Perry led the #5 Wolverines to their first shutout against the Fighting Irish since 1902. The #16 ranked Notre Dame squad never had a chance as Michigan scored at least one touchdown per quarter. Perry found the end zone four times, thrice on the ground and once through the air. Irish starting quarterback Carlyle Holiday performed so poorly - 5 of 14 for 55 yards and one interception - that Michigan got their first taste of Brady Quinn, a freshman at the time, late in the game.
2004: Michigan at Notre Dame, 20-28, a.k.a. The Introduction of Darius Walker
After finishing a dismal 5-7 in '03, the Fighting Irish entered this matchup unranked against the #8 Wolverines. Staunch defense and freshmen running back Darius Walker - 115 yards on 31 carries with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter - paved the road the victory for Notre Dame. Michigan kicked four field goals, lost two fumbles, threw one interception, and had a punt blocked before scoring a touchdown way too late in the fourth quarter. Michigan held a 12-7 lead heading into the final frame, but three unanswered Irish touchdowns doomed the Maize and Blue. A failed onside kick following their lone touchdown sealed the Wolverines fate.
2005: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 10-17, a.k.a. Another Upset
The Fighting Irish have overcome a higher ranked Wolverines squad on multiple occasions, including the game in '05. #20 Notre Dame gave first year head coach Charlie Weis a victory in his first game against #5 Michigan. Brady Quinn threw touchdowns passes in each of the first two quarters, and Michigan's offense never clicked on all cylinders, managing a field goal in the second and a touchdown with less than four minutes remaining. The win marked the first at The Big House for the Irish since '93 and handed the Wolverines their first non-conference loss at home since '98.
2006: Michigan at Notre Dame, 47-21, a.k.a. Mario's Half
Unlike previous years, Michigan traveled to South Bend as underdogs, ranked #11 to Notre Dame's #2. It was a game of threes, as Chad Henne found Mario Manningham for a trio of touchdowns in the first half and the Wolverines defense picked off Brady Quinn three times - as well as forcing a fumble - throughout the game. The majority of the action took place in the first half with Michigan up 34-14 at the half. With a pair of field goals and a fumble return for a touchdown, the Wolverines finished with 47 points: the most scored against the Irish in South Bend in 46 years, and, currently, the most points by either team in the rivalry series.
2007: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 38-0, a.k.a. Modern Day Shutout II: The Losers Battle
Both teams entered this matchup winless at 0-2 and unranked. Mike Hart had guaranteed Michigan victory following a 39-7 loss against Oregon in the previous week. He backed up his words with a dynamite performance: 187 yards on 35 carries with two touchdowns. Freshman Ryan Mallett filled in for an injured Chad Henne and did a fine job in his place, finishing 7 of 15 for 90 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Wolverines recovered two of five Irish fumbles in the first half as well as intercepting a Jimmy Clausen pass to jump out to a 31-0 lead by halftime. A Mallett to Manningham touchdown in the third proved to be the final score in the game and finalized a much needed win for the Wolverines.
2008: Michigan at Notre Dame, 17-35, a.k.a. Turnover Fest II: RichRod's Reanimation
In '08, Michigan and Notre Dame met unranked for the second year in a row. This time, their would be no shutout by the Wolverines as six turnovers spelled their demise. Like the '87 game, the Fighting Irish flipped turnovers into points and that was that. Leading 28-17 at the half, Notre Dame shutout Michigan in the second half and added an insurance touchdown early in the fourth.
2009: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 38-34, a.k.a. Ahahahahahaha, Burn.
Following RichRod's horrible inaugural season, Michigan hosted #18 Notre Dame hoping to build off of a sound, 31-7 victory against Western Michigan to start the season. What happened in this game didn't matter for Michigan's '09 campaign - they fell apart anyways - but I believe that the last-second victory influenced the pure insanity in the coming years. This game and next five aren't that far in the past, so I'll spare the majority of the details and get down to the meat and potatoes. Leading 34-31 with less than three minutes to go, the Fighting Irish decided to try a pair of passing plays instead of forcing the Wolverines to stop the run and use their final two timeouts. Both throws fell to the ground, Notre Dame punted, and Michigan had the ball back at its 43-yard line with 2:13 remaining and two timeouts. Rather than read some words, go and watch the final drive. The 5-yard pass from Tate Forcier to Greg Mathews capped the improbable comeback for the Wolverines and started a trend of last-second victories for Michigan over Notre Dame.
2010: Michigan at Notre Dame, 28-24, a.k.a. Ahahahahahaha, Burn II: Shoelace's Soliloquy
Michigan won this game due to the first of many spectacular games by Denard Robinson. Shoelace accounted for three - one passing, two rushing - of the Wolverines four touchdowns, and it was the last that mattered most. With 3:41 remaining, Denard orchestrated a 12 play, 72-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard, game-winning, rushing touchdown with 27 seconds remaining. Denard broke Michigan's total offense record for a quarterback with 502 yards, with 258 coming off of 28 carries and 244 more on 24 of 40 passing. He also tore off the longest run in Notre Dame Stadium's history, an 87-yarder for a touchdown in the second quarter. The dominant performance elevated Robinson to the forefront of Heisman-talk, which didn't pan out, but regardless, the game cemented Denard as the face of Michigan football for years to come.
2011: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 35-31, a.k.a. AHAHAHAHAHAHA, BURN III: EVERYTHING!
There's no reason to recap this game. Watch this video of the final 1:41. Anyone who's a Michigan or Notre Dame fan remembers where they were for this ending. If you don't, I feel bad that you missed out on the most ridiculous and unbelievable finish in sports history. Thank you, Michigan and Notre Dame (especially the Irish) for not playing defense all that well in the final minutes. But seriously, that ending. WHAT?!?!
2012: Michigan at Notre Dame, 6-13, a.k.a. Turnover Fest III: So Fugly
Six turnovers. Five by Denard, including four interceptions and one fumble. This game was so painful and so boring to watch after the previous three entries in the series. Denard wasn't perfect, and this game proved it. The fact that Michigan was still in the game after six turnovers should have been a huge red flag to anyone who thought the Irish actually had a chance to win the National Championship.
2013: Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 41-30, a.k.a. General Gardner's Second-To-Last Stand
Under the Lights II had no chance of living up to its first iteration. That much was expected. But this game brought excitement back to the rivalry after the snoozefest in 2012. It was a back-and-forth affair highlighted almost singularly by the play of each quarterback. Devin Gardner, even with the worst interception in football history, outplayed Tommy Rees and secured the victory in the end. Gardner attempted his best Denard impression, scoring five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing), and tallying 376 total yards with 294 on 21 of 33 passing and 82 on 13 carries.
2014: Michigan at Notre Dame, ??-??, a.k.a. TBD
2014-??: BRODOWN (Michigan is Randy Marsh)
I expect that until this rivalry resumes, the respective Athletic Directors of Michigan and Notre Dame will meet in parking lots when contract talks arise and brodown until a decision is reached.
So there you have it, the 41 games between Michigan and Notre Dame in all their glory. If reading this doesn't make you go crazy with anger over the fact that nobody knows when these two teams will play again, read it again. The history between Michigan-Notre Dame makes this rivalry important in ways Michigan-Ohio and Notre Dame-USC will never be. It's a travesty to the sport that the rivalry is going on it's eighth hiatus, "technically," and likely third break of over a decade. Michigan literally taught the game of football to Notre Dame. They've had some of the best games in college football history against one another, with classic performances filling the history books on both sides. On Saturday, both teams are fighting for the highest all-time winning percentage in college football history as well as the best record in South Bend in the series. A lot's at stake in Saturday's game, and it's too bad we have to say goodbye, for now, again, afterwards. Because as fun as it is to hate on Notre Dame, it's so damn fun to play the Fighting Irish.
Until next time Notre Dame. Go Blue!