SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry has matched iconic coaches, launched players into national prominence, featured thrilling victories, heart-breaking defeats and more than its share of hard feelings.
It’s been Fielding Yost vs. Knute Rockne — even though their teams never met — as well as Fritz Crisler against Frank Leahy and Bo Schembechler facing Lou Holtz. It’s been Angello Bertelli, Tim Brown and Rocket Ismail for Notre Dame and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, Anthony Carter and Desmond Howard for Michigan.
It’s had all the ingredients that make a great rivalry, with some long gaps in between games to allow resentment to simmer.
Even as the rivalry prepares for the last scheduled game Saturday, fuel is still being added. Last year. Michigan coach Brady Hoke accused the Fighting Irish of chickening out of the series and the “Chicken Dance” was played over the Big House sound system following a win by the Wolverines. Then, the Irish who say they have no room on their schedule for Michigan, announce this week a two-game series with Ohio State.
The rivalry started in 1887 when a group of Michigan students traveled to South Bend to teach the sport to students at the Catholic school. The history includes Michigan canceling the 1910 game — the year after Notre Dame won for the first time — because Notre Dame wouldn’t play without two players Michigan contended were ineligible.
The bad blood escalated when Yost left Rockne off his All-American team in 1913. It grew even fiercer when Yost and Rockne had a dispute at a track meet in 1923, and then Yost urged Big Ten teams not to play Notre Dame because he said they didn’t follow Big Ten eligibility rules.
The two schools played in 1942 and 1943, splitting the games, but Crisler accused the top-ranked Irish of playing dirty. He vowed never to play them again after the second-ranked Wolverines lost 35-12 in the second game.
The winner of the Saturday’s game will have college football’s best winning percentage for at least a week. It will have bragging rights for the foreseeable future.
Memorable games in the series:
2011 — Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31. The Irish jump to a 24-7 lead late in the third quarter, but can’t hang on as the teams trade three touchdowns in the final 72 seconds. The Wolverines took their first lead of the game at 28-24 when Denard Robinson threw a 21-yard TD pass to Vincent Smith. The Irish answered five plays and 42 second later. But Robinson threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Roy Roundtree with 2 seconds left for the win.
1994 — No. 6 Michigan 26, No. 3 Notre Dame 24. Remy Hamilton kicked four field goals, including a 42-yarder with 2 seconds left, to give the Wolverines the victory after the Irish had taken the lead with 52 seconds left.
1993 — No. 11 Notre Dame 27, No. 3 Michigan 23: Unheralded quarterback Kevin McDougal ran for two touchdowns, and Mike Miller scored on a 56-yard punt return as the Notre Dame surprised the Wolverines, ending Michigan’s 20-game unbeaten streak in regular-season games. The victory came shortly after the release of the book, “Under the Tarnished Dome: How Notre Dame Betrayed Its Ideals for Football Glory.”
1991 — No. 3 Michigan 24, No. 7 Notre Dame 14: Desmond Howard scored on a 29-yard reverse and a diving 25-yard reception midway through the fourth quarter that ended a Notre Dame rally. Elvis Grbac set a school record for accuracy by completing 20 of 22 passes The Wolverine defense held the Irish to 78 yards rushing.
1988 — Notre Dame 19, Michigan 17: Reggie Ho kicked four field goals, the final one a 26-yarder with 73 seconds left, as the 13th-ranked Irish beat No. 9 Michigan. Michigan had a chance to win on the final play, but Mike Gillette narrowly missed a 48-yard field goal in a season-opening win that sparked a national championship.
1980 — No. 8 Notre Dame 29, No. 14 Michigan 27: Phil Carter scores on a 4-yard run on third down to give the Fighting Irish a 26-21 lead with just over three minutes left. With 41 seconds to go, John Wangler threw a 1-yard TD pass to Craig Dunaway to give the Wolverines the lead. Both teams failed on 2-point conversion tries. A stiff wind blowing against Notre Dame Stadium suddenly stopped as Harry Oliver kicked a 51-yard field goal that barely made it over the crossbar as time ran out. Schembechler said in 2002 interview it was the most memorable game for him, but not because of the kick, but Tony Hunter’s catch on the previous play.
“They caught the ball out of bounds. The game should have been over,” Schembechler said. “Go look at the tape. He caught the ball out of bounds.”
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