Growing up as a Michigan football fan, there are certain games and moments that have resonated with me over the years. Many of these memories come from the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry.
Unfortunately, the Fighting Irish removed the Wolverines from their schedule following the 2015 season. Although it appeared the two rivals would not meet for some time, a restoration could come sooner than once thought.
In recent interviews, Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly has said he wants to bring the rivalry back after dropping Michigan to play a heavy Atlantic Coast Conference schedule. Jim Harbaugh and new Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel have been adamant about adding Notre Dame back to the schedule. For now, it appears both parties are on board.
Why the revival NEEDS to happen
Given the history of the rivalry and the rich tradition of each program, this move needs to happen.
Michigan and Notre Dame sit No. 1-2 in all-time wins and win percentage. Both programs combine for 24 National Championships, 177 All-Americans, 10 Heisman winners and 834 NFL draft picks.
Most importantly, the rivalry itself dates back 130 years and created many of college football’s iconic moments.
I remember watching highlights of Desmond Howard’s diving catch in the end zone in 1991. I still smirk hearing my Dad reminisce about how “asinine” it was for Michigan to kick to Raghib Ismail in 1989.
I remember how pumped up I was when Michigan dominated Brady Quinn in South Bend in 2006 on their way to an undefeated match-up with Ohio State. And I still get goosebumps thinking about Denard Robinson’s heroics in the first “Under the Lights” game and his game-winning touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree with two seconds remaining.
These two Midwestern powerhouses have made plenty of memories over the years. It’s time for some new ones.
As a die-hard Maize and Blue fan, I truly understand the significance of the game. It’s not just a match-up for bragging rights; it’s a game that could make or break your season and serves as a measuring stick for each team to evaluate itself early in the season.
Michigan would benefit from a non-conference battle
In 2016, the Wolverines have a rather soft schedule. Three early match-ups against Hawaii, Central Florida and Colorado, as well as five straight home games, kickoff the season. Michigan’s first threat arrives in town when Penn State visits on Sept. 24. While many Michigan fans find comfort knowing their team should breeze through the first few games, I prefer the Wolverines to be tested early on.
With fierce competition in the Big Ten East Division, Michigan would benefit from an early challenge against the Fighting Irish. The game would also boost the strength of schedule and playoff resume. Losing a hard fought battle to a tough Notre Dame squad could still give Michigan a great case for the College Football Playoff — the ultimate goal for Harbaugh and Co.
While there is still much work to get the deal done, 2018 is already being discussed as a possible revival year. If the two can once again ignite the rivalry, more historic moments will be made. This time, with playoff implications on the line.