SINCE 1978, Michigan and Notre Dame have played 30 times. Or every year except for six. The last season they didn't meet was 2001. That will change after the Wolverines visit South Bend on Saturday. It's the last scheduled matchup for the foreseeable future.
In 2007 the schools, which are separated by 175 miles, agreed to play annually through 2031. Then 2 years ago, ND chose to end the series because it had agreed to start playing fives games each season against teams from the ACC, which it was joining for most other sports while remaining a football independent. And as long as it makes sense for ND, it doesn't really matter whether it makes sense for anyone else. But Wake Forest-ND doesn't figure to be the same. Maybe someday Texas-ND can be.
Nebraska-Oklahoma used to be one of the must-sees on the calendar. Then Nebraska went to the Big Ten. The world continues to spin. Pitt and Penn State haven't met since 2000, though they will each other in 2018 and '19. And what about Texas-Texas A&M?
Anyhow . . .
"It's almost like a slap in the face," Michigan defensive end Frank Clark said.
Michigan has taken four of the last six, and six of eight. From 2009-11 the Wolverines won three straight, all by four points. Last September at the Big House, they won, 41-30. But not before coach Brady Hoke accused the Irish of "chickening out." After ND coach Brian Kelly said he didn't see it as one of the program's "historic rivalries." Instead, he called it a "big regional game." Later, he would say it was "great."
When the game ended, the "Chicken Dance" was played over the loudspeakers at Michigan Stadium.
They first met in 1887. In 1910, the year after ND won for the first time, Michigan canceled the game the day before because it claimed ND was using ineligible players. They wouldn't play again until 1942. The resumption lasted two seasons. But for the last 3 1/2 decades, it's mostly been pretty good stuff.
Still . . .
"I don't think I get into all the hype of it around here," is how ND quarterback Everett Golson tried to downplay the story line, as you'd almost anticipate.
"Yeah, there's significance to it," Hoke insisted.
And, after this, nothing but memories. Like Rocket Ismail's touchdowns on consecutive kickoffs in 1989? Or Reggie Ho's four field goals the year before? How about Desmond Howard's dramatic end-zone catch on a fourth-and-1 in 1991? Here's to the nostalgia.
The last time Notre Dame beat Michigan for a second straight year, who was its quarterback? No hints. See Answer man.
AAC me up
* Memphis, which beat FCS Austin Peay, 62-0, is 1-0 for the first time since 2004. And has its first shutout in 14 years. Now it goes to UCLA.
* Justin Hardy just became East Carolina's all-time in receptions. He now has 274.
* True freshman Marlon Mack, in his first game, rushed for an American-record 275 yards and four TDs in South Florida's 36-31 win over Western Carolina. Two days earlier, Tulane's Sherman Badie had set the record of 215 in a double-overtime loss at Tulsa.
Brady Quinn, in 2005, when he finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting (he was third the next year).
Spotlight on ... Pacific Nortwest Elimination Heat
It’s one of those matchups that makes the sport at this level the best start-to-finish watches.
Two teams that only cross paths occasionally, from different sections of the country, getting together with a whole bunch at stake in the season’s second week.
The loser obviously will have a harder time making the first four-team playoff. As great as March Madness often is, Kansas-Kentucky in December doesn’t have nearly the same meaning.
Third-ranked Oregon is hosting No. 7 Michigan State on Saturday. The Ducks, favored by two touchdowns, live on offense. The Spartans, who beat Ohio State in last season’s Big Ten title game and Stanford in the Rose Bowl to end up third in the polls, are virtually the opposite.
“It helps you see where you stack up,” said Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who can make an early Heisman Trophy statement. “It poses a good challenge.”
Some teams aren’t as willing to put so much on the line out of conference. Right now Michigan State is the only ranked opponent on No.
8 Ohio State’s schedule. And the Big Ten took a hit when No.
18 Wisconsin — which doesn’t play Ohio State or MSU — blew a 17-point third-quarter lead against LSU in Houston.
Oregon — which has to deal with No. 11 UCLA on the road and No. 13 Stanford at home and maybe even No. 14 Southern Cal in a Pac-12 final — made it to the BCS final 4 years ago with Chip Kelly but has found a way to lose just enough since then to not make it back. And since the Rose is one of the national semifinals this season, there’s not even that consolation for almost.
“This is why you play football,” Ducks’ defensive end Arik Armstead said. “I think it’ll be a good experience.”
For fans, at least, it sure beats Baylor-Northwestern State. Or is that Alabama-Florida Atlantic?
Here and there
* Since 2010, three-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State has beaten FBS Kansas, Minnesota (which it also beat in 2007), Colorado State, Kansas State and now Iowa State. Three of the wins were by 13, 15 and now 20 points. The Bison are not scheduled to play an FBS team in 2015.
* Delaware, which hadn’t been shut out since 1996, lost at Pitt, 62-0. The last time the Blue Hens were beaten that badly was 1921 (89-zip to Penn).
* Onetime Villanova offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, who has won a conference title at all three schools he’s coached at (Fordham, Richmond, Bowling Green), lost his Wake Forest debut at Louisiana-Monroe, 17-10.
* Rowan, ranked 15th in Division III, opens at home tomorrow night against Widener and new coach Mike Kelly. It’s only the second meeting (the other was 2007), in what Profs coach Jay Accorsi is calling the Battle for Commodore Barry Bridge.
* Del Val and new coach Duke Greco, who moved up from defensive coordinator when former boss Jim Clements went to Division II Kutztown, start Saturday afternoon at Montclair State. The last meeting was in the 2000 opener when Greco, then a junior, got his first start as the Aggies’ quarterback.
Couch potato guide
7 Cheyney at Lincoln, TCN
8 Arizona at Texas-San Antonio, FS1
7 >Pittsburgh at Boston College, ESPN
10:30 Washington State at Nevada, ESPN
12 Akron at Penn State, 6ABC
12 Missouri at Toledo, ESPN
12 Oklahoma at Tulsa, ESPN2
12 McNeese State at Nebraska, ESPNU
12 Central Michigan at Purdue, ESPNEWS
12 Florida Atlantic at Alabama, or Arkansas State at Tennessee, SEC
12 Buffalo at Army, CBSSN
12 Howard at Rutgers, BTN
12:30 South Carolina State at Clemson, LiveWell
1 Navy at Temple, ESPN3
3:30 USC at Stanford, 6ABC
3:30 Ohio at Kentucky, ESPNU
3:30 Ball State at Iowa, ESPN2
3:30 Northern Illinois at Northwestern, BTN
3:30 Maryland at South Florida, CBSSN
4 Georgia Tech at Tulane, ESPNEWS
4 Eastern Michigan at Florida, or Nicholls State at Arkansas, SEC
4:30 Mississippi at Vanderbilt, ESPN
6:30 Michigan State at Oregon, Fox 29
7 San Jose State at Auburn, ESPN2
7 East Carolina at South Carolina, ESPNU
7 Rhode Island at Marshall, TCN
7 Arizona State at New Mexico, CBSSN
7:30 Sam Houston State at LSU, or Lamar at Texas A&M, SEC