The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry is a special one for me. Sure, there’s no team I hate more than Ohio State, and I dislike Michigan State more than the Irish, but when it comes to bragging rights, the UM-ND game trumps them all.
That’s because my parents, brothers, and various aunts, uncles, and cousins attended the University of Notre Dame at some point. My aunt and I are the lone Wolverines. The Ohio State game is undoubtedly more meaningful to Michigan, but I don’t know too many Buckeye fans. When Michigan loses to ND I hear it about it from 100 different people for a year.
I’ll be attending this Saturday’s contest in South Bend. It will be the ninth UM-ND game I’ll have witnessed in person, at least according to my ticket book. I went to the 1998 and 2002 games, the four games during my college years (2004-2007), and the two since.
My alma mater has a 3-5 record in those eight games. However, the team I was rooting for holds a 5-3 record, as I must admit I was an Irish fan as a confused youngster.
It has been an interesting series, both historically and recently. Michigan leads all time, 21-15-1. The Wolverines (.737) and Irish (.734) rank 1-2 in the NCAA in all-time winning percentage, so this match-up is always important in that race.
|Greg Mathews hauls in the game-winning TD for Michigan, the underdog, in last year’s game. (Credit: larrysphatpage)|
The underdog has also fared well. Other than 2007—when Michigan was favored and won easily—not since 2003 has the favorite prevailed. Of the games I’ve been to, the favorite is 1-7.* That is pretty astonishing, and it’s why I’m happy Notre Dame is a four-point favorite on Saturday.
*I say approximately because I could not find point spreads for games played before 2005. However, I know Michigan was favored in 2004, and I’m pretty sure they were small favorites in 2002 and moderate favorites in 1998 (season opener after Michigan won the national championship).
The thrill of the upset has certainly added to some memorable games in recent history. Just last year I witnessed Tate Forcier lead Michigan on a last-minute touchdown drive, after Charlie Weis had made some questionable play-calling decisions. I saw “Super” Mario Manningham’s coming-out party in ’06, when the Wolverines hung 34 on the Irish…in the first half. And I saw Notre Dame’s exciting upset wins in ’02 and ’98.
What will happen in this year’s match-up? The only thing I know for sure is that my mom will get teased for not choosing a side, instead wearing a “Michigan and Notre Dame Mom” t-shirt.