Notre Dame – Michigan Rivalry: An Unfortunate Casualty

Notre Dame - Michigan Rivalry
Under current scheduling contracts, Notre Dame and Michigan are set to square off against each other just two more times although the door remains open for future showdowns. (Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports)

The great sport of college football is fueled by passion, pageantry, and of course, rivalries. While many teams claim the Notre Dame program as one of their rivals, if you asked the Notre Dame fan-base who they consider their true rivals, very few teams would actually be mentioned. One name that would be brought up often, but drenched with disdain while doing so, would be the Michigan Wolverine program.  The same school that stakes claim to teaching the Fighting Irish how to play football, has also been one of its longest running opponents.

The first meeting between the schools took place 1887, as the Wolverines with an offensive explosion beat the Irish 8-0, and that would be the start to a series that fans of each respective school would see last well over a century. While the series did go on a 35 year hiatus after the two teams played in 1943, it is a series that has always been viewed as one of the best in the history of college football.

(Find tickets for the 2013 Notre Dame – Michigan game in Ann Arbor)

Notre Dame Michigan rivalry a casualty of Notre Dame’s move to the ACC

As the Irish embark on their inaugural journey into the A.C.C., there was bound to be a residual effect, some of a positive nature, some not as much. As part of their contractual agreement in joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, Notre Dame is now obligated to play five opponents out of said conference, and was forced to deviate from its standard scheduling practice that fans have grown accustomed to over the last two decades.

One of the programs that felt the unfair side of conference realignment happened to be the University of Michigan. In 2012, as the Irish and Wolverines were set to do battle in South Bend, through a letter hand delivered by Notre Dame’s own Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick, Michigan’s A.D., their football program, and their fans were informed that the Notre Dame and Michigan series would be ending after the meeting in Notre Dame Stadium in 2014. While many out of the Michigan program cried foul, Notre Dame was well within their legal and contractual rights to do so, and did so with legitimate reason.

Although required play to a set amount of A.C.C teams, the Irish still have seven open slots per year in which they are free to schedule as they please. While it is easy to look at this fact and question the need to remove the Wolverines, the truth is Notre Dame is more concerned about consistent exposure on a national level, not only for the fans nationwide, but for recruiting purposes also. This is very evident as the Irish program annually participates in the ever popular “Shamrock Series”, facing such opponents as Washington State, University Of Miami, and the latest opponent, Arizona State University, at a neutral site location.

Even with the exclusion of Michigan, the Irish will still have a Midwest presence as they will continue to play Michigan State and in-state rival, Purdue – for now, as for how long that continues, only the powers that be can answer that. What we do know is this, Michigan and Notre Dame rank respectively #1 and #2 in winning percentage, and after 2014, that series is about to come to an end again, and we don’t  see it starting up again anytime soon. Will there be another long hiatus, as was seen in the 1940’s? Who knows, but the ending of the series this time was less then amicable, and a certain program’s feelings have been hurt.

Whether you respect Michigan’s program or despise it, there are certain emotions this series created that will be hard to replace. Regardless of how poorly or how well either program was playing in any given year, the series has consistently been hard-fought by both sides. Obviously over the course of the series, there have been meetings that have been incredibly lopsided, this was typically not the case though, and since 2009, only19 points have separated the winner and loser, combined. In fact one would have to go back to the timeframe of 1887to 1908 to find the longest winning streak by either team, which would be 8, by Michigan.

Notre Dame and Michigan were natural rivals

Because of its proximity to South Bend, Michigan is considered a natural rivalry, and even without a mutual conference affiliation, it’s a rivalry that a nation a college football fans annually took interest in. Between the two programs you have two of the best helmets, two of best the fight songs, two of the best stadiums, and two of the best traditions in the sport. No matter what school you root for, both fan-bases would agree that there are very few schools that create a local electricity like these two schools do when they visit each other’s respective campus.

Returns of Jerry Tillery, Tevon Coney Beyond Huge for Notre Dame

Regardless of recent comments made by Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon, or their football coach, Brady Hoke, that were less than professional, there has been and always will be a certain level of respect from both sides, for each other. This rivalry runs deeper than anyone currently involved it, and has been that way for multiple generations.

So while fans of both programs eagerly await the start of the 2013 season, they should both take time to reflect on this series. With only two games left for the foreseeable future, it will be hard to replace either school for both teams and the excitement that is associated with that given weekend. This series demands a certain level of respect, and I for one will miss the days of watching the Irish play in the Big House, or setting in Notre Dame Stadium as the hated Wolverines come running out of the tunnel.


You may also like


  1. ND joke 3 years ago

    Does anyone really still care about ND? Always overrated. Always. Drop MU for national exposure? Really? Every game on national tv even when you suck. One good season in 20 years with the most embarrassing loss in national championship history? No program has ever has a more bloated sense of self worth than ND.

    Reply Like Dislike
  2. JC 5 years ago

    Hey Steelfan,

    Welcome back! I did not realize how bad we hurt Michigan’s feelings dropping them of the schedule! I hate to see these “bedwetters” moan. Do we through them a crying towel or a box of depends?

    By the way, your timing is impeccable! Yes sir, a wonderfully dynamic year!


    Reply Like Dislike
  3. SteelfanRob 5 years ago

    It seems “Michigan” Dave has replaced “Buckeye” as troll of the week. What is it with these losers talking trash on an ND site?! I would never think about trolling another college football team fan’s site.

    Why didn’t ND join a conference back in the day? Answer: They weren’t allowed to as a result of anti-Catholic bigots like Fielding Yost. That’s just a simple historical fact. Check it up, troll Dave.

    Reply Like Dislike
  4. Damian 5 years ago

    If I were a Michigan (or B10) fan, I wouldn’t be complaining about the “weakness” of the ACC program, since the B10 has been on a protracted downward spiral these past few years. Yes, it’s likely the B10 will adjust and be back again somewhere down the road, as college football is cyclical. But you don’t slam another conference when yours is in the same boat.

    That all being said, I’ll miss the ND/UM games. There is a shared disdain among fans of both programs, and this makes for great rivalry games. I loved seeing UM’s coaches checking on “shoelace” last year to make sure he was “ok” after being dominated by ND’s defense. I’m sure UM fans are equally gleeful when bad things happen to ND in a game too. I don’t get the same vibes during Michigan State or Purdue games.

    I realize Purdue is the “in-state” rivalry game for ND and they will probably always be on the schedule. And ND has a long history with Michigan State. However, I wish ND had made some arrangement to at least have some home-home series with Michigan, even if it had to be every 2 to 4 years or something. Something where at least you know there will be meat-chicken games every few years, even if it couldn’t be every year.

    But ND did leave a crack in the door for Michigan, that there may be the occasional home-home series. We’ll see.

    Reply Like Dislike
  5. JC 5 years ago

    Well, y’all, the bully-boy-attitude of the big ten finally backfired. Not to mention, the utterly feckless notion of the big ten thinking ND could not live without the big ten? Seems like the “lame ten” now. Miami found out the hard way and so will the big ten. ND signs it’s own checks!

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. Dave 5 years ago

      yeah, I’m sure we’re all disappointed in your leaving. Oh…wait…you DIDN’T leave, you still have MSU and Purdue on your schedule… Nothing “backfired”, you just chickened out of one of the best rivalries in college sports so you could play Duke… congrats.

      Reply Like Dislike
      1. JC 5 years ago

        Stick with Ohio State your IQ matches…roll over a few cars and set them on fire for practice. I’m sure you’ll feel right at home in the big 10 with OSU as your best rivalry.

        Google: College Football; Fan Violence Erupts During Victory Celebrations.

        Hmmm…Guilt by association comes to mind with Hokey’s recent comments. Birds of a feather flock together…eh.

        Stop flattering youself, USC is our biggest rivalry.

        Kumbaya Dave!

        Like Dislike
      2. Shazamrock 5 years ago


        In all actuallity, after Michigan and ND meet for the final time in 2014, Notre Dame has already replaced Michigan,(and that traditional early season rivalry game) with Texas not Duke.

        Notre Dame vs Texas!

        Now there’s a blockbuster rivalry!

        One that will make the Michigan rivalry look like small potatoes!

        Like Dislike
      3. Shazamrock 5 years ago

        By the way, it appears that Michigan has replace their traditional 2nd week of September match up with ND in 2015 & 2016 with Oregon St, and Colorado.


        Like Dislike
  6. UM-Mikey 5 years ago

    Sir, I think you missed a major point in the discussion. All teams need to win consistently and the machinations they themselves through regarding ‘favorable’ yet ‘competitive’ scheduling can be breathtaking. ND Football joining the ACC is a long term case in point. It has always been a weaker conference in football yet has good TV markets for the strong ND fan base, supporting the case for money-based decision-making. Frankly, there is no reason to schedule an up and coming powerhouse like Michigan when they are located in your own backyard. I must disagree strenuously with the commenters about unruly Michigan fans. There will always be an element of poor behavior at any NCAA game, but it is thankfully rare at ND, UM and at many B1G Ten home fields. I think Lansing and Columbus have, in general and by a large margin, the most disrespectful fans in the B1G Ten. However, I’ll take any B1G Ten game over an NFL game in Philly! OUCH!

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. duranko 5 years ago

      UM-Mikey, you are a fact-based breath of fresh air on here. First let me go to your last point about NFL games in Philly. My cousin and his spouse are intense Redskin fans. They go to most home fans and have seen the Skins play in about a dozen other NFL stadia. They wear Redskin regalia to all
      venues except one: Philly. They are clear that it is too dangerous. In addition to many ND-Michigan games in Ann Arbor, I’ve been to four Ohio State-Michigan games in Ann Arbor, and have found the Michigan folk to be pretty amiable. they are not the gold standard, that is in Lincoln, Nebraska, the center of politeness in college football.

      Of the college places I’ve been to Columbus is the most
      hateful and offputting.

      Thanks, UM-mikey!

      Reply Like Dislike
    2. Shazamrock 5 years ago

      “The ACC has always been a weaker conference in football”

      Reallly? (Is this a fact?)

      Weaker than who… the back-sliding,bottom dwelling BIG10?

      I would match up Louisville, Clemson, Florida St, & Virginia Tech, against any of the best teams the BIG10 could offer.

      If you think historiclly, that teams like Florida St, Miami, NC ST, Virginia Tech & Georgia Tech consititutes a traditionally weak football conference then you frankly know nothing about past and present day college football. But you are certainly privledged to your own opinion.

      By the way, (for future reference) Notre Dame remains an Independent in football.
      That is a fact.
      They are part of the ACC in all other major sports with the agreement to play 5 ACC teams each year in football.

      Now if you want to come back in about 6 months, we will be more than happy to compare basketball conferences as well.

      Reply Like Dislike
      1. JC 5 years ago

        Amen Shaz,

        I wonder if they can spell Duke or North Carolina (ACC basketball teams) who are in the final four more often that not.

        In regards to the football schedule. I too, agree 100% with the University and Jack Swarbrick designing a new ‘independent’ and ‘flexible’ ACC schedule.

        The 21st Century is definitely here and time to move on. Especially the OLD “bedwetters!”


        Like Dislike
      2. Shazamrock 5 years ago


        Just think for a moment how distrubing it would truely be today if ND had in fact joined the Big-10 years back when the pressure was really on to do so.

        A slumping conference now littered with violations, documented cheating, NCAA sanctions, various improprieties, harsh penilties,imprisionments, and numerous law suits.

        Yes, ND and Michigan provided all of us with some real classics.

        But instead of looking back, it should be more exciting for ND fans to look forward…
        With future games like ND vs FSU, or ND vs Virginia Tech, or ND vs Clemson just to name a few.

        You want to talk about passion and pageantry… just wait until the Irish show up in Blacksburg or Tallahassee!

        I have little doubt that in a few short years a whole new set of classic games and rivalries will be born.

        Now that’s what I consider a real breath of fresh air!

        Like Dislike
      3. JC 5 years ago

        I could not agree with you more Shaz!

        Like Dislike
      4. HURLS 5 years ago

        3-cheers-for-Shaz! (dayom, I like this guy)

        Like Dislike
  7. HJPrender 5 years ago

    Don’t kick it to him, Don’t kick it to him, WHY the HELL did you kick. It to him.

    Reply Like Dislike
  8. JC 5 years ago

    I grew up watching Ara on black & white TV and it was definately civil then not today. Further, I was in the Michigan Alum section with my wife when the rocket ran back two. Unfortunately, 50 plastic coke lids came flying when we stood up and cheered for Ismail on both occasions. Glad I did not have my childern with me at the time. You have to wear ear plugs to omit the vulgarity of the fan base that is always beyond the pale at Michigan.

    I have also been at Ohio State with the fans being just as bad or worse. Indiana and Wisconsin Stadiums were enjoyable. Needless to say, I won’t miss any Big 10 Teams, especially Michigan and Ohio State. I would rather see us play them for a title game, and they should count their blessings for that consideration.

    Reply Like Dislike
  9. Gary 5 years ago

    The Michigan fans said time and time again, if ND does not join a conference just drop them. They also said we don’t need ND. Notre Dame just beat then to It.

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. Dave 5 years ago

      It’s not just Michigan fans saying that…it’s the whole Big 10. Either piss or get off the pot. But you didn’t get off the pot…you just dropped the team that you’re most afraid of.

      Reply Like Dislike
  10. michFan 5 years ago

    as a michigan fan, i think part of the disappointment comes from keeping MSU and Purdue on the schedule, but removing one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. if you want the midwest exposure (for however long that lasts), why remove easily a top 3 midwestern program, much less one that has roots that go back so far? i hate notre dame, but in a respectful way. i can’t stand it when you guys win, yet i wish we would play you in 2015 and onward.

    Reply Like Dislike
  11. Shazamrock 5 years ago

    “The great sport of college football is fueled by passion, pageantry, and of course, rivalries”

    Bob you left out what’s probably the most influential fuel of all… MONEY!

    Michigan has begun a dynamic pricing strategy to single-game tickets this season based on the supply of tickets available and the competitiveness of the game. (the better the game, the scarcer the seat, the higher the cost)

    A current listing of Michigan home game ticket prices show a range from $65 for Akron, to $110 for Nebraska, to a high of $195 for Notre Dame.

    I find it interesting that Michigan ticket buyers think more of the Irish($195) than that of their so called bitter rival Ohio State ($175)???

    There’s a reason why the Wolverine administrator’s are more than a bit perturbed at ND for cutting off the series with them, and it doesn’t necessarily start with passion or pageantry!

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. michFan 5 years ago

      i don’t know what ND/MSU in south bend costs compared to ND/UM in south bend, yet i imagine the latter is higher. would seem some revenue would leave ND’s coffers as a result, though likely made up with any ACC agreement.

      and dynamic pricing isn’t just strictly opponent based – it’s everything (weather, previous record, inventory, etc.). UM isn’t a pioneer here though is certainly taken advantage of the model. i think kansas is doing it and i’d expect others to follow suit.

      Reply Like Dislike
    2. Shazamrock 5 years ago

      While Michigan may not be a pioneer in taking advantage of the model, they have always been a pioneer in taking advantage of the situation.
      Particularly when it comes to their home games.

      Is it just a coinsidence that ND notifies UM that they are discontinuing the series and suddenly UM raises the price of the last ND- Michigan home game for the forseeable future to almost $200 bucks a ticket?

      And how is that not strickly
      opponent based again?

      ND in football has always been cash cow.
      Everybody knows it.
      And Michigan is going to make damn sure that they take full advantage of that final home game.

      Everybody knows that too.

      I’ll give you another example of Michigan taking advantage of the situation (or the Michigan way, or the Michigan model)
      Bradey Hoke makes his “Chickening Out” statement in the spring, knowing full well that the next time the two teams meet it will be on “his” home field.

      Very brave…very brave indeed!

      Reply Like Dislike
    3. HURLS 5 years ago

      blue-sers. blue-sers. blue-sers…

      Reply Like Dislike
  12. duranko 5 years ago

    Michigan has long historic ties to Notre Dame. Rockne modeled our stadium after theirs. Michigan has been a great opponent for these last 35 years, acknowledging some gaps in that time. I enjoy the Michigan games, both up there and in South Bend. They have the most long standing successful
    tradition in the Midwest.

    Ara was instrumental in rekindling the Michigan series, when his pupil
    Bo Schembechler was at Michigan.

    Harry O, Larry Moriarty, Rocket Ismail. Great opponents make great moments.

    Notre Dame neither begs nor expects begging. We’re bigger than that.

    Reply Like Dislike
  13. Notre Dan 5 years ago

    Michigan deserves to be put on the back burner. Why play them, because they are near by? Once in a blue moon is plenty. They have been nothing but disrespectful to Notre Dame over the years and should be begging, not insulting us if they want a good team on their weak schedule.

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. Tim 5 years ago

      Are you really insulting Michigan on their schedule? Excuse me but y’all are the ones that dropped Michigan an kept MSU and Purdue. I don’t know about you but that’s some pussy shit right there. Michigan fans are also much more respectful than ND fans, and hardcore as well. We actually know our football. Go back to playing your military schools, lower tier big ten schools, and ACC schools and good luck gaining any respect from anyone as program trying to get easy wins and dropping one of your most difficult tests every year in Michigan.

      Reply Like Dislike
      1. Dave 5 years ago

        Right on. Keep MSU and Purdue but drop Michigan? Cowards. You keep the two teams you have winning records against and drop the one you don’t. Truth is, you know now that RR is gone and Hoke is in charge, Michigan will only get stronger and your losing will happen more frequently. “consisten exposure on a national level”…what a joke. I suppose the nation would rather see you play Purdue than Michigan, right?

        Like Dislike
      2. Shazamrock 5 years ago

        Akron, Cental Michigan, Miami of Ohio, UCONN, Ball St, UNLV,
        Hawaii, Colorado, Appalachian St, & Faber Community College….

        These are all teams on MIGHTY Michigan’s current and future schedules.

        (You know your football alright!)

        Cupcakes, Dregs, and bottom feeders everyone!

        If you actually knew anything about football you would realize that a couple of military schools instead of a bunch of cupcakes might actually entitle your program to participate in the upcoming NCAA football playoff.

        Ohio State tried it a few years back by playing Navy and nearly had their ass handed to them at home.
        They only escaped with a win because of shear dumb luck.
        They never ever even considered ever playing them again… Gutless cowards!

        Instead, like always, you will load up on a bunch of hapless appetitizers, beat your chest on how great you are, then try to pay someone off under the table in order to get into the playoffs.

        The only thing getting stronger about Michigan is the stink of their fans!

        So where’s your Santie Clause now Ass Clown?

        Like Dislike
      3. JC 5 years ago

        Thank you Shaz,

        I was thinking it and you said it all!


        Like Dislike
      4. HURLS 5 years ago

        Yo Shaz – I like that “stench on their fans” comment. Blue-sers.

        Like Dislike
      5. HURLS 5 years ago

        – and o’ya. “Maize” is cheap. imitation, ghetto-gold.

        Like Dislike
    2. Toulmin H. Brown 5 years ago

      If Michigan improves they will be invited to renew the rivalry IMO.

      Reply Like Dislike
      1. Dave 5 years ago

        lol….you’re a clown. You won last year and lost the year before. you have no idea what you’re talking about.

        Like Dislike
      2. JC 5 years ago

        Dave the Michigan Troll,

        How did you become such a willfully ignorant black hole physicist?


        Like Dislike