Notre Dame versus Michigan. For decades it’s been the first true college football game of the year–usually between two powerhouses–played very early in the season. This wasn’t a “money game.” This wasn’t a “powderpuff” game against an inferior opponent. This was two of college football’s perennial programs meeting, usually with national championship implications on the line in the second or third week of the season.
The legendary players that have participated in the rivalry are enshrined in halls of fame around the country. Knute Rockne. The Four Horsemen. Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, and Desmond Howard. Not to mention the coaching minds of Bo Schembechler and Lou Holtz going head-to-head.
What began in 1887 when a few Michigan players taught the kids at a Catholic school in Northern Indiana how to play the game, and with a break between 1910 to 1942, and again between 1944 and 1977, this game has been one of the biggest and best in all of football. When the modern series restarted in 1978, it was what fall sports was all about, and after this year, it will be no more.
In 2012, Notre Dame decided to opt out of the annual meeting, citing that they didn’t have room on the schedule any longer. Irish coach Brian Kelly even downplayed the rivalry, as reported by The Inquisitr. Michigan called foul–or in this case, fowl–and even played the “chicken dance” song as Notre Dame left the field after last year’s win by Michigan at Ann Arbor. Regardless of the reason, this season would be the last meeting (non-bowl/playoff) for the immediate future. And Notre Dame made sure Michigan would always remember it.
Notre Dame took it to the Wolverines early and often en route to a 31-0 blowout, the only time the Fighting Irish have ever shutout the maize and blue in the long standing series. Everett Golson threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns, two to wide receiver Amir Carlisle, and running backs Greg Bryant and Cam McDaniel rushed for a combined 44 yards and a score.
The Irish defense took the ball away four times, three interceptions–the last coming on the final play of the game for a pick-six, only to be called back on a defensive penalty, and one fumble recovery, and Michigan looked confused and listless as the golden domes had their way on both sides of the ball.
Now that the series is finished for the foreseeable future, Notre Dame and Michigan will go their separate ways. But the Michigan Wolverines will not soon forget this game and what Notre Dame did to them for four solid quarters. The rivalry may be ending, but as history has shown, these two programs are fated to come back together, and the taste of a blowout like this tends to stay in the mouth much longer than any other loss. Notre Dame Football will always remember, and Michigan will never forget.