Notre Dame Football: When Is It Ok To Root For Michigan?

For the third consecutive year, Notre Dame heads toward November in the playoff conversation. That’s an enjoyable and exciting thing. What is not fun and exciting is the constant conversation regarding who to cheer for, is it bad that X team is losing at home to a lousy team, strength of schedule conversations, etc. I guess part of this is the joy of college football and sports and what have you, but mostly this is all just exhausting. Is it asking too much that there be a system that allows us to enjoy the games without having to have a bulletin board laying out all of the possible machinations of what it means that Virginia lost to Miami?

Above all, there is nothing more awful than the “is it ok to root for Michigan this week?” discussion. It happened a ton last season, and it has come up again this year, now that the Notre Dame schedule has taken a turn for the worse, and they’ve already lost a game. Had they beaten Georgia, this discussion would be moot, but with a loss, they need some help, specifically in the strength of schedule area. Michigan has already lost a game (because they are booty), and they play Penn State today. A loss would cripple their ranking and Notre Dame’s prospects for a quality win.

We’ll get into whether or not it’s acceptable to cheer for them today in a bit, but is it ever ok? Can we come up with a scenario where it’d be ok? Let’s break it down.

What If They Are Playing Another Team You Dislike?

Let’s say you really can’t stand Penn State, their opponent today. Is it acceptable to root for Michigan when they play an extremely non-preferred program?

Verdict: Not acceptable.

This one is pretty straight forward, and I began with it to make a point. Michigan is the worst. There is no program worse than them, you should never consider rooting for them all other things being equal. That’s just the baseline.

What If Notre Dame Has Already Beaten Them And They Can Boost The Resume?

The 2018 scenario. Notre Dame obliterated Michigan in the opener last season, and following that game, Michigan went on a bit of a run. This was seemingly a good thing for Notre Dame; it boosted their bonafides going forward and gave them the quality win they needed to combat any “you didn’t win your conference, you shouldn’t be a playoff team” mumbo jumbo from the sports pundits and possibly the playoff committee.

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The problem there is because they kept winning, the national media couldn’t help but flock to their jockstraps, with more than a few of them suggesting they ought to be rated ahead of Notre Dame. Yes, absurd given the result of the game the two teams played against each other, but this was a real thing — the “eye test” and whatnot. So while you were rooting for the Skunk Bears to win games, the powers that be were using those wins to make a case against Notre Dame. Counterproductive.

It’s also important to remember; they are always going to lose to Ohio State at the end of the year as long as Harbaugh is around. This is very key to remember. In this scenario, you’re going to spend all those weeks rooting for these dudes only to see them get blasted to the Buckeyes. And for what? Strength of schedule that was always doomed.

Verdict: Not Acceptable

What If You Need To Boost The Strength Of Schedule Before You Play Them?

The 2019 situation. This is essentially the same scenario as above, but with one difference: unlike last season, Notre Dame has already lost a game. We know the committee likes quality wins more than quality losses, and the Irish schedule isn’t giving very many chances. Virginia apparently stinks, USC has three losses already, Stanford is booty, and Virginia Tech isn’t providing anything. Notre Dame really needs Michigan to at least appear to be pretty good.

The same rules from above apply here. This Michigan team certainly doesn’t pass the eye test. They struggled with 3-3 Army, got boat raced by Wisconsin, and won 10-3 against Iowa. So they don’t even have the “well they lost, but boy did those guys look good doing it” flogging from the media. People are dubious. And, they are losing to Ohio State at the end of the year, so that’s two losses right there. So, they aren’t helping our SOS in the event we win. No one will think we’re good because we beat them, they’re essentially 2018 Northwestern. So what’s the upside here? Answer: there is none.

Verdict: Not Acceptable

What If A Michigan Win Means A Playoff Berth For Notre Dame?

This is the trickiest of all scenarios. Let’s say there’s a situation where Notre Dame is sitting at #5, Ohio State is at #4, and if Michigan beats Ohio State, the Bucks are knocked out of the conference title game and the two teams participating aren’t playoff threats. It seems like a no brainer, right? There is only upside. This could very well play out this season.

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Here’s the thing with this, in this scenario, Notre Dame already has a loss, and it’s almost certainly either to a good team, or it was recent. A Notre Dame team with one loss to a mediocre team–like Pitt–early in the season and wins against everyone else is already in the playoffs. There won’t be four undefeated teams, and Notre Dame plays at least one elite-ish team every season where if they win, they’ve proven themselves. If the loss is to the elite team on the schedule, they’ve likely not looked dominant in the other games because if they had, they’d already be a playoff team. See 2017 for evidence of that.

So, while 11-1 is nice and I’d love to be in the playoff, if we already aren’t in line for a berth, we probably don’t totally deserve it, and I’m not trying to be indebted to Michigan for something like that. I’ll accept a win, but I’m not rooting for their help either.

Verdict: Not Acceptable

What If Aliens Come To Earth And Decide That The Only Way To Let Us All Live, Michigan Has To Defeat Them In Football?

I got this one from Twitter, and I think it’s important.

I’m not about to listen to Michigan Man for all eternity remind us they saved the planet and civilization. I’d rather listen to the USC band on a loop. Deliver me Sweet Meteor Of Death.

Verdict: Not Acceptable

The moral of the story, don’t root for Michigan. Ever. They don’t like us; we don’t like them. That’s just the way it is. And here’s the thing, the game will go the way it goes regardless of our rooting interest. So don’t put yourself through that.

Go Irish, beat Wolverines.


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  1. JJK 4 months ago

    Never commented before but I’ve been a reader for years. This is the best article that’s ever been written on this site.

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  2. Damian 4 months ago

    Ha-ha. Love this article. Michigan and Miami, two teams that I’ll never root for, schedule strength be damned. I would root for USC before Michigan (yes, it’d make me want to vomit in my mouth, but I could do it if a USC win helped ND’s schedule).

    But Michigan (and Miami). No way. I live in PSU country, but I don’t hold any specific animosity toward PSU. By the time I started following ND in depth in 2002, our games were in the past. Save for the 2006-2007 games we just don’t play them and I don’t care to expend energy hating on a team we don’t play much. I’d love to have ND-PSU games just because of where I live and it would be great for me personally.

    But I was rooting for PSU on Saturday because I hate the meatchickens. They seem to despise PSU and IIRC they didn’t want PSU in the Big 10. They hate loosing to PSU so if that added a bit of extra hurt I’m all for it.

    And yes, they’ll likely get crushed by OSU. Last year I too was getting sick of the maybe they should be ranked ahead of ND despite the head to head. WTF. Seriously. Thankfully the committee never bought that but I was starting to wonder. I got a good laugh when they not only lost to OSU….they got sliced and diced every way possible. That finally shut up all the “Michigan should be ranked ahead of ND” crowd.

    I have a friend who’s an OSU alum and I once told her if you really want to annoy a Michigan fan tell them you’re more concerned about Michigan State then Michigan these days. They’d probably melt.

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  3. Bruce G. Curme 4 months ago

    Well obviously I was so wrong about Michigan being ranked at the end of the year. They will not be. Only Georgia will be ranked, as somebody pointed out earlier. But at least I will have the great satisfaction of seeing Jim H’s last game on TV against Ohio State…hopefully putting an end to Michigan’s answer to the “Davey Willingham Weis” era at ND…the “Rodriquez Hokey Harbaugh” era.

    BGC ’77 ’82

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  4. Bob 4 months ago

    What if your daughter is a Penn State alumna? What if you value your life? In law, we call this a moot point, as rooting against Michigan is genetically programmed.

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  5. pete calco 4 months ago

    Kelly needs to do what Oregron did. Last 2 years lsu offense struggled.Now it is unstoppable Oregron went into the nfl and got a great offensive mind and gave him complete control of installing a new spread offense.Notredames offense is so far away from Ohio State lsu alabama oklahoma clemson its laughable.

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  6. Terry MCMANUS 4 months ago


    (With respect to Ann Landers and/or Dear Abby) – you have a point and you have made it well but if you keep your hat on perhaps so one will notice.)

    I take 2nd place to no one in my despising of UM but – I would LOVE to see them beat Ohio State this year.

    Alabama, Clemson, OSU, LSU, Oklahoma et al. – ND is good but they are all better.

    Rankings be damned – OSU is in serious need of a good butt-kicking, and I would love to see it administered by the skunk-bears.

    I CAN’T believe I just said that.

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  7. Mgo Azul 4 months ago

    Notre Dame SUCKS!

    24-17-1 for a REASON.

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  8. Ryan 4 months ago

    Agreed! Never, ever root for the whore.

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    1. Michael The Archangel 4 months ago

      Agreed . . . but why insult whores by comparing them to Michigan?

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