“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
vicious electronic questioning
Whether or not Jim Harbaugh made this pick to get Carlos Hyde as far away from Michigan as possible, it's much appreciated.
The NFL Draft is over. The NBA Draft makes us all sad and alone. While the NBA and NHL playoffs have both been amazing, the time when regular season baseball is the only sporting entertainment available is nearly upon us. (Thank you, World Cup year, at least.)
This seems as good a time as ever to check in with our mortal enemies in Columbus. Over the weekend, I did a Q&A over at Eleven Warriors about the current state of Michigan football, the mindset of the fanbase—if you watch Mad Men, you'll guess the Pete Campbell reference without having to look—and the early outlook for this season. It's admittedly not the most pleasant read for Wolverine faithful.
Anyway, 11W's Michael Citro was kind enough to answer a few questions himself, and you may even be somewhat heartened by what he has to say about this year's Ohio State team—a contender, to be sure, but one that has a few holes to fill and issues such as "can we teach the secondary how to tackle with their arms?"
Thanks to Michael for his time and very forthright answers, and to John Cooper forever and always.
You asked about the mindset of Michigan fans now versus 10-12 years ago, and I'd like to turn that around with a bit of a twist. How do Ohio State fans currently perceive the rivalry, and do they truly believe it'll remain this lopsided over the long haul, or is the memory of John Cooper—and, say, last year's game—enough haunting context to keep y'all aware of the fickle nature of college football?
I think we fall into two camps here. There are those of us who suffered in the rivalry under Cooper who are content to count the wins one at a time on a micro scale—and keep score from Jim Tressel’s first year and forward on a macro scale. We enlightened citizens thank our various deities annually because we know that ka is a wheel and the cycle can change without warning (ask Lloyd Carr).
But, there is also a more arrogant and entitled (not to mention, generally younger) segment of Buckeye Nation that believes Ohio State is the one who knocks. They think Michigan is in the midst of becoming Nebraska-esque—a good team with a rich tradition and history that has lost some of its national relevance and is doomed to mire in decent-to-good seasons without ever truly being great again. This kind of hubris is foreign to a guy like me, who sweats out games against Indiana and Purdue until they’re well out of reach. Seriously, did Tresselball not teach us how not to take things for granted?
Do you believe it takes away from the rivalry when the two programs are in such different places for a prolonged period of time? I know it's easy to say as a Michigan fan—it sure feels more fun for everyone involved when both teams are not only competitive against each other, but playing for something more than just The Game itself.
I believe the rivalry is more intense when both schools are at the top and there is something of note on the line. I mean, come on, the 2006 version of The Game was insane, was it not? That said, I don’t think the rivalry is diminished all that much when there is disparity over the long haul, although many fans do.
I mean, we don’t have a two-front rivalry the way Michigan does with us and MSU. We have U-M and that’s basically it—although Penn State fans are constantly trying to drum up a rivalry where none exists and Wisconsin-under-Bert was soaring to heights of hatred never previously seen. Gary Andersen seems too nice to hate like that. So Michigan is the arch-rival and then there’s everyone else.
Okay, on to the actual team. Who are the main candidates to replace Carlos Hyde, and can any of them match what he was able to provide last year? How do you feel about the offense in general?
Many OSU fans are under the misguided notion that plugging in any of the talented Buckeye backs will magically produce the same results that Hyde manufactured. I am not among those fans. Hyde was a special blend of power and speed that we probably haven’t seen since Eddie George—and he was running behind one of the best two or three offensive lines in school history. You don’t just plug-and-play when you lose four steamrollers and a ball-carrying rhinoceros.
Sophomore Ezekiel Elliott is the favorite to replace Hyde. He’s also a special talent but he doesn't have Hyde’s power and it’s unclear so far if he’ll have Hyde’s vision. Elliott is faster than Hyde, probably quicker to hit the hole, and more likely to break long runs as a result. But will the holes be there behind four new starting offensive linemen and Taylor Decker moving from right to left tackle? Unknown.
Bri’onte Dunn, Warren Ball and Rod Smith will likely all see plenty of time in 2014 unless Elliott just comes in and kills. I expect more of a committee approach but we’ll know more once fall camp gets underway.
As for the offense overall, I think Tom Herman will move toward more of a 60/40 run-pass distribution (it’s been about 65/35 the last two years). Rushing yards may be harder to come by under the revamped O-line and more passing may result. Plus, I would expect Braxton Miller to hang in the pocket more as a senior and try to make more plays with his arm. I feel pretty decent about the offense considering Ed Warinner has worked wonders with the offensive line the last two years and Herman has been generally great at everything except remembering he had Hyde in the backfield during the second half of the two biggest games of last year.
As for the defense, the line is absolutely terrifying, but I'd like to get your thoughts on the back seven. How does new co-DC Chris Ash plan to address the issues in the secondary, and who's going to replace the production of Ryan Shazier?
Sure, Ace. Go ahead and ask about Ohio State’s back seven [guzzles bleach, tucks into the fetal position and cries].
Honestly, it’s going to be fun to see the transformation Ash has in mind, should it actually happen. Ash plans to be more aggressive with coverage (but what new defensive coach doesn't?) and he has an actual defensive philosophy—something that seemed to be missing under Everett Withers. Ohio State will be younger but more athletic at safety and the secondary should communicate better. Ash will have the corners and safeties meet together, which is something that inexplicably wasn't happening the last two years. Oh, and the Buckeyes will likely play less nickel and dime and more base in 2014.
Josh Perry is the favorite to slide into Shazier’s role. Perry came into his own a bit last year but there is still concern. Shazier was a laser-guided Cloverfield monster. Darron Lee looks like he’ll join Perry and Curtis Grant as a starting linebacker, but Raekwon McMillan had a good spring and may force his way into the lineup. Lee is a former safety and has better cover skills, which is why Ohio State may play more base defense.
If you had to pick a breakout player or two on each side of the ball that Michigan fans may not be very familiar with, who would they be?
On the offensive side, Curtis Samuel should do the kinds of things Dontre Wilson did last year, now that Wilson is sliding into Philly Brown’s old spot. Samuel makes fast guys look slow. If it’s not Samuel that opens eyes, it may (finally) be Michael Thomas, a promising wide receiver that has been Ohio State’s best spring performer for three years.
Defensively, McMillan is one guy who will be noticeable if he gets on the field. But perhaps an even bigger threat to break out defensively is yet another young D-line prospect—Tyquan Lewis. He flashed all spring and literally everyone has been raving about him. He was destroying guys during the Spring Game. That’s not always an accurate barometer, but with Larry Johnson Sr. calling the shots on the defensive line these days, the rotation is going to expand to keep guys fresher. And yes, I just told you Joey Bosa will be fresh in the fourth quarter.
I know Wolverines and Buckeyes are strange bedfellows, but if I suggested we band together in a conspiracy to frame James Franklin for major NCAA violations, you're totally in, right?
I’m actually not that worried about James Franklin—yet. Sure, he seems to be killing it on the recruiting trail right now, but if anyone knows that there’s no such thing as a May National Recruiting Championship, it’s probably U-M fans. His record against the top teams in the SEC wasn’t great and until he shows me differently in the B1G, I’m not completely sold. Mind you, I didn’t say I wasn’t nervous. In fact, with recruiting like his, those major violations you refer to may take care of themselves (just kidding, Penn State fans….probably).
Related to the last question: how do you feel about the job Urban Meyer has done on the recruiting trail? How's the 2015 class shaping up?
Overall, Meyer has been about as advertised in recruiting. Of course, he made his biggest splash early by flipping a bunch of guys when he first arrived in Columbus. It’s strange to think some of those guys haven’t panned out (Se’Von Pittman transferred, Kyle Dodson is buried on the depth chart, etc.), but that’s recruiting. The start of the 2015 recruiting season has been very slow from an OSU perspective and it’s hard to say why that is. We certainly didn’t appreciate losing a prized QB like Brandon Wimbush to Penn State, which already has Hackenberg. Some people are nervous, but I get a sense that most Ohio State fans are willing to wait and trust Urban.
Not actually a question, but a pair of fill-in-the-blanks. If _________ happens, Ohio State wins the Big Ten. If ________ happens, Ohio State has a disappointing, title-free season. Go.
In the first sentence it has to be two things—if the defense comes together and the O-line gels, Ohio State wins the B1G. If those things don’t happen, Ohio State has a disappointing, title-free season.
Since you asked me, I'm required by law to ask you: what's your far-too-early prediction for The Game?
Whatever Brady Hoke is—and I still don’t think we quite know—he is not Rich Rodriguez. You can once again throw out the records when The Game is on the line.
My way-too-early prediction is that Michigan annoyingly hangs around until the final minutes again. But I think the home crowd and Braxton Miller make the difference in a one-score game. Remember, I am a product of the Cooper era and never ever feel secure about anything when it comes to Ohio State. I have been accused in the past by Michigan fans of being disingenuous when I downplay the Buckeye advantage, but last year I called a closer-than-expected game and look what happened—I spent the entire fourth quarter in cardiac arrest.
I’ve already ordered my defibrillator from Amazon for this November.
Carlos Hyde, human battering ram
First, on behalf of everyone here at MGoBlog, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving; this week is the perfect time to keep in mind all we have in life to be thankful for—and yes, I hope that goes outside of the spectrum of sports, for sanity's sake.
We've covered the X's and O's with Eleven Warriors' Ross Fulton; now it's time to cover the hate, and for that we welcome 11W's Johnny Ginter, a man whose passion for snark nearly equals his love of the Buckeyes. Johnny has been kind enough to answer a few questions about the state of the rivalry, his outlook for this weekend, and even a totally serious query about the OSU basketball team. If you'd like to hear my take on The Game, Johnny and his co-host Michael Citro had me on as the guest for this week's Eleven Dubcast, and you're encouraged to take a listen.
Before we proceed, remember that this is Hate Week, because Johnny certainly does; channel your outrage responsibly. Now, let the hate flow through you...
Because of our weekly Q&As for 11W, I know that you've had to sit through at least most of Michigan's season. First of all, I'm so sorry. This isn't a question. I just want to publicly apologize.
I really appreciate that, because I started this season as a 28 year old male in reasonably good health, and now I'm a diabetic 83 year old man in a coma from eating tainted paste.
With that out of the way, I'd like to hear an outsider's perspective on what's going on in Ann Arbor. What do you think the biggest issue has been to lead Michigan to this point?
The impending return of Sauron to Mordor? Truthfully I think part of the problem is that Michigan as an athletic department has a hard time negotiating college football in 2013. I think a lot of the decisions and choices that the Ohio State athletic department makes are kind of dumb and obvious from time to time, but it's undeniable that the Buckeyes have benefited from an aggressive self-marketing strategy. I don't see the same kind of things coming out of Michigan in terms of promotion that I see from Ohio State. [Ed-Ace: Johnny obviously isn't signed up to any U-M email lists.]
But really if I were to try and pin it down to just one thing, I think you guys are sometimes too patient, which is a nice way to say that you're cool with failure. Remember, Ohio State has a fanbase chomping at the bit to remove a defensive coordinator that has managed a side missing one of its best players, had a totally revamped defensive line at the beginning of the season, started the season with only four returning starters, and is still the 12 ranked defense in the country. That Michigan would even briefly allow the thought of keeping Al Borges to flutter through their minds is hilarious.
If you were running Michigan's program—and no, not intentionally running it into the ground—what would your next move be after this season ends?
Fire Al Borges immediately and bring in an offensive line specialist. Jim Bollman, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach is one of the most genuinely depressing sentences in the English language. His typical practice attire was white socks pulled up to his shins and a big goofy straw hat which reminded me of something someone would wear if they were trying to make a parody of an offensive line coach. It wasn't a great look, and his offensive lines typically underperformed or were just plain bad.
Enter Ed Warinner, and two years later Ohio State boasts possibly the best offensive line in the country (with much less heralded recruits). Michigan is still loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball, but that o-line is a gigantic domino that knocks everything over once it falls down. In a bad way, though.
As a Buckeye fan, what kind of balance would you like to see between Ohio State winning and Michigan being competitive? I imagine the joy of winning The Game has lost some of its luster over the past—oh lord—decade or so.
I was born in 1985, so my formative years were spent sitting angrily in front of the TV, arms crossed and teeth grinding as Michigan beat Cooper over and over and over. And the reason why I highly doubt any of you guys got sick of that is because John H. Cooper assembled some absolutely incredible teams that by all accounts should've won more than two goddamn games during his tenure.
So yes, I want Michigan to be good. I was at the 2006 game. It was an incredible celebration of football, of Woody and Bo, of everything that's fun about this rivalry. I was also at the 2004 game, which was just really, really funny. And ultimately, I want both of those things. I want the titanic matchups and underdog games where the underdog has a legitimate shot at winning, and I want Michigan to be good. The Game means less if one side (you) isn't holding up its end of the bargain on a consistent basis.
Which makes me angry. Which, ironically, makes the game mean more to me. So I have some feelings I need to sort through.
So... how's the basketball team looking this year? This is a completely serious question.
They're... okay? I mean, they're pretty much who we thought they were, minus LaQuinton Ross looking like butt. Defensively it's an excellent team with incredibly athletic guys like Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, Shannon Scott, and so on. I actually think the defensive rule changes favor Ohio State because Thad Matta is really adept at getting his teams to play at a high defensive level without fouling. Aaron Craft is still probably the best on the ball defender in the game right now, even with the new foul calling regime.
With that said, without Deshaun Thomas the Buckeyes are predictably struggling on offense. Thomas averaged close to 20 points per game last season, but the next leading scorer on the team was Aaron Craft (right, Upchurch), who was putting up half that. Right now nobody is putting up even 12 points a night for Ohio State, but they do have four guys in double digits per game.
And that's probably how it'll look for most of the season, but I'm cool with it. Thad Matta is really a brilliant player's coach who has never won fewer than 20 games through 13 seasons, and his teams usually struggle with some growing pains early before figuring things out in January or February. I expect that to be the same for '13-'14, and really my only hope is that Matta's back and leg stay manageable and he sticks around for a long, long time.
Okay, okay, I should probably ask for your prediction for this weekend's game. Are there any matchups out there that you see favoring Michigan, and how do you see the game playing out?
There aren't a lot of favorable matchups for Michigan, but if they can scheme to isolate Funchess on a linebacker like Perry or Grant or even a d-lineman dropping back in coverage, that could yield some positive results offensively. That might open up some things for Gardner to get some yards on the ground because there's no way in hell the Ohio State defensive line is giving up anything to Toussaint or Green.
But even if Michigan does manage to capitalize on some mistakes and score some points, you're going to need to score more than 35 to beat Ohio State, because they're going to put up at least that much. And please, don't tell me about Frank Clark and Jake Ryan. Mark Weisman averaged 5.2 yards per carry against you, and Carlos "El Guapo" Hyde is much, much better than Weisman. If Urban Meyer is so inclined he could just pound away with the dude a la 2007 and be done with it.
He won't though. Instead you're probably going to see a lot of the Pistol with Dontre Wilson and Hyde in the same backfield, with some goofy stuff involving the tight ends that you haven't seen all year thrown in. I firmly believe that Meyer has been holding back quite a bit offensively just for this game, and I'm really, really excited to see what he pulls out of his hat.
This will probably be a three quarter game, but as the three and outs start to pile up and as Ohio State begins to get longer and longer touchdown plays, the game will be put increasingly out of reach for the Wolverines.
Is there any part of you that's worried about a 1995-type scenario this weekend?
I'm writing this on Wednesday morning, so no. By Friday night I'll be at Defcon 1, so by then probably yes.
I still firmly believe that Ohio State is going to win, because they're better coached and have the better team. That should be enough for me to rest easy. But it's The Game, baby. Rest and rationality are for the weak.
Thank you to Johnny for not only taking the time to answer these questions, but providing me an enjoyable (seriously) forum each week to dicuss Michigan and interact with the good people at Eleven Warriors—well, at least the ones who don't insist on exclusively using the term 'scUM'.
I hope you're all familiar with Ross Fulton of Eleven Warriors, who does an excellent job of breaking down the X's and O's for Ohio State and their opponents week in and week out. Ross was kind enough to answer a few scheme-centric questions about The Game, and he did so in more detail than I could've possibly asked for—his take on Michigan's offense alone is well worth your time.
Michigan's defense was surprisingly successful against OSU last year, give or take some pounding runs by Carlos Hyde and the bomb to Devin Smith. How do you see the Buckeyes attacking Michigan on Saturday, and do you expect to see any new wrinkles in the offense that we didn't see last year?
First, thanks for the opportunity to collaborate with MGoBlog, a site I have long read and enjoyed.
As to your question, Ohio State was able to gain yards against Michigan last season (the Buckeyes had nearly 400) but Michigan did a really nice job holding the Buckeyes to field goals in the red zone.
The new “wrinkles” you will see Saturday are the primary difference between the Ohio State offense of 2012 and 2013. Last season Braxton Miller was inconsistent as a passer and a decision maker on read/packaged games. As a result, the offense would devolve at times to the Miller and Carlos Hyde run show, even when defenses were cheating slot defenders or safeties against the run.
Fast forward to this year. Miller and Hyde are still Urban Meyer and Tom Herman’s primary weapons. But Ohio State is far more effective at constraining the defense with the screen and pass game. This reflects Miller’s development, as well as the improvement in the wide receiver corps, led by Corey Brown.
Meyer and Herman’s preferred method of operating is coming out in the First Quarter and hitting the edge with screens and packaged hitches to Devin Smith (above), and then taking downfield shots off play action. For instance, one play I expect to see Saturday (and one that will probably get under Michigan fans’ craw) is a deep crossing route off inverted veer. It is very difficult for the play side safety to stay home when they see a pulling guard and the possibility of Miller or Hyde running the football. Also look for Ohio State to use Dontre Wilson as a decoy in the flat to open vertical routes.
Then, once they establish a lead Meyer and Herman like to return to the base run game. Assuming the weather cooperates, I would expect some variation of that formula Saturday.
Are there any personnel matchups when OSU is on offense that particularly delight/concern you?
To me, there is one schematic and one personnel matchup that will be interesting to watch. The first is between Meyer and Greg Mattison in the wide side flat. Against spread teams, Mattison generally walks his Sam linebacker out to the field and plays him in the gray area inside the slot receiver.
Meyer and Herman love attacking the wide side field when a team does this. They will do so not only with wide receiver screens, but also the outside run game. For instance, one method they use is to run jet sweep away from the play side blocking. Miller will read that backside linebacker and if he bites down, Miller gives on the jet sweep. The Buckeyes’ slot receiver simply has to seal the linebacker inside and the Buckeyes can get easy yards, either with Hyde or Wilson.
As a result, playing that role is a lot to ask of any defender, but I was very impressed with how Jake Ryan handled it last fall. But this is a chess match I will be watching.
In terms of personnel, I think that Ohio State has an advantage inside against Michigan’s undersized interior. The strongest part of the Buckeyes as a team is their offensive line. Look for Ohio State to run inside zone and power at the 3-technique bubble.
[Hit THE JUMP to read how Ross thinks OSU will attack Michigan defensively, his thoughts on what plagues the Michigan offense, and his prediction for The Game.]
Gentleman, scholar, walrus.
With the Michigan State game just a few days away, you should all be familiar with the excellent blog The Only Colors—if you're frequenting, say, the RCMB instead of reading their content, you're not doing yourself any favors. I asked TOC's Heck Dorland (posts feed/Twitter) to do a scheme-centric Q&A and he went above and beyond with his responses; what follows is a remarkably in-depth look at how State operates on both sides of the ball and what it means for this weekend.
With the notable exception of the Purdue game, it appears that the offense has moved from complete incompetence to something resembling average. Have there been any significant schematic changes or is the improvement more a product of finding the right personnel?
I'd love to say that this happened:
*Dave Warner blows the dust and cobwebs off an old scroll and unfurls it*
“Uh, does anyone in here read... um...”
“That's Hurrian,” says a voice.
*everyone turns to look at Jim Bollman*
“What? I've been an 'Offensive Coordinator' who's not allowed to call plays for like, a decade now. What do you think I'm doing up there, calling my own plays and then comparing them one-by-one to Dave's plays, slowly nourishing a grudge with every play that I out-coordinate him? Hell no, I've spent the last two weeks polishing up the rough edges in my Aramaic. Anyways, it says something about six verts and a deadly curse...”
But that story would be an lie, as six verts is highly illegal. What mostly happened is the latter guess, MSU's guys either got better or got replaced by better guys behind them as this season has wore on.
A corner/go combo route; on this one, the go was obviously open.
If I had to identify a specific X's and O's change, I'd say most significant is how MSU has evolved to deal with man to man and one high safety/eight man box looks that tormented them in weeks one and two. This year MSU's passing game has been noticeably more willing to run various 'combo routes' (curl/corner, corner/post, corner/go etc.) against man-to-man than previous coordinators Roushar and Treadwell. Particularly effective vs these one high/man-to-man looks have been corner/go where MSU causes the CB to vacate on the go route and hit usually a tight end on the corner route towards the vacated space 15-20 down the sideline and corner/post where the outside receiver and slot receiver will mesh with the goal of freeing up the post over the middle, again, about 20-25 yards down-field. If you look at MSU's highlight reels since the YSU game, most of the big passing plays are coming against 8 man fronts, which was not true against WMU and USF.
[For the rest of the Q&A, hit THE JUMP. You should really, really read this.]
Back in the day, Brian Stouffer—yes, one of the puppet geniuses—and I had an annual GChat conversation that invariably took bizarre turns towards luchadores and sea mammals that incidentally discussed the looming game of the century of the week. I'm happy to report that we have resurrected this tradition, possibly made it even weirder.
Well, I guess we should start with the looming subplot everyone's been talking about all week: Jameis Winston.
Let's just talk the whole time about him.
I think we should also talk about how Mack Brown did not recruit him. I certainly hope Michigan's coaches check with each and every QB prospect they recruit about this.
"Son, does Mack Brown have any idea who you are?"
"We would like to offer you a scholarship, son."
"I have never played football."
I think I am literally the only human being alive who both did not get a scholarship offer from Mack Brown and did not become a megasuccessful quarterback.
Johnny Unitas, Vince Young, Barry Sanders, and John Flansburgh are amongst the many incredibly successful quarterbacks Mack Brown ignored.
I was in fact offered two scholarships to play quarterback at Texas.
That makes sense, since I saw you separate your shoulder throwing a ping pong ball at a tailgate a few years ago.
Right. Anyway. This is going to be over soon. How are you feeling about this?
This game or this chat?
I don't think we've got enough content for the chat yet.
I dunno, Courier New, 14 point, 2 inch margins. Let's turn it in and hit happy hour.
We can watch my DVD of the classic 1973 ND-Michigan game. Mark May said it was the best of the whole series.
The internet doesn't have margins. We'll have to soldier on, even if I want to fire up the 1968 classic in which Kirk Gibson hits a walk-off home run to send the game to a shootout.
Rob Ufert's call of Kork Gorbson's game-tying walk-off digeridomer was perhaps the best Michigan Manment of all time. Of all time!
Man I love imaginary games. Although I think we can all agree that the best one was the Christmas Day Notre Dame-USC game that the security guard at Nakatomi Plaza was watching.
All of our games are about to be imaginary. We'll have to hop on Google Chat in 2015 and say "I killed your quarterback" / "nuh-uh, he's got a force field" / "my defense has a force field disruptor" / "Well, my defense oversigns"—RECORD SCRATTTTTCH
"Well I'll be, your downfield throwing field-adjusted VORP is higher than ours. I concede you have the superior side. And nobody had to get hurt in the process!"
But hey isn't it better that we work out our differences with words instead of violence and tackling?
I think you know the answer to that is "hell no."
[AFTER THE JUMP: things cease being strange. lol jk]
An old tradition around here was to team up with a blog that covered the team we're about to play, ask each other some burning questions about what they see in themselves, and wait for the respective message boards to blow up about how tinted that guy's glasses must be. This week I meant to bring it back by interviewing ND's puppet quarterback depth chart, however when we got there we learned they had all been poisoned by Blazing Sea Nuggets. So, second choice: we now bring it back with founder of the very large blog/message board for ND fans (the ones who aren't psychopaths, or at least the good kind), Frank Vitovich of UHND. Part 1, where I answer his queries, is here.
Let's peel this right away, (CUCK-CUH-CAW!): Where does Michigan stand in the pantheon of Notre Dame rivalries and how do the fans feel about [CUH-CHEE-CHAW!] pulling out of the series? Was this really necessitated by the [COO-COO-CA-CHAH!] ACC or was that an excuse? [A COODLE DOODLE DOO]
That depends on who you ask. Some Notre Dame fans will down play the rivalry because of all of the gaps in the series and some of the early history and controversy. I am not one of those fans. I am going to miss the series because of the genuine dislike fanbases of the two schools have for each other.
|If we're not rivals then why is your band
clearly worshipping our former punter /
space emperor? [Upchurch]
I am not saying that as a bad thing either. Quite the contrary. Part of what has made Michigan and Notre Dame games so much fun over the years is the fact that each teams fans really don't care much for the other institution. That might actually be putting it mildly.
Yes, it is true that Notre Dame has played schools like Michigan State and Purdue more times, but those games rarely, if ever bring with them the hype, excitement, and intensity of a Notre Dame - Michigan game.
USC still have to be considered Notre Dame's top rival given the deep history of that series just as Ohio State would be considered Michigan's top rivals, but after the Trojans, it's hard for me to thing of a rivalry I've enjoyed watching more over the years. Part of that could be because I grew up in the 80's and haven't lived through the large gaps that a lot of older Notre Dame fans have, but all I know is that the Michigan game is one of the games I circle every year and there isn't a single opponent I have seen Notre Dame play more times in Notre Dame Stadium than Michigan.
I do see the rivalry coming to an end because of Notre Dame's new ACC commitments and not simply wanting to get out of the series. Hopefully something gets worked out and the two are back on each others schedules in the near future.
[Rest after the jump]