Michigan fans - myself included - often view the Notre Dame game as a bellwether for the rest of the season. I decided to take a look at whether we should do so, because in the offseason my options are little projects like this or simply wandering the halls of my castle while moaning and pining for my long-lost love, Ms. Constance.
The last thirty years of history say we should not see the ND game as a harbinger of things to come, though of course not all ND teams are created equally...and I am too lazy to make what's below any more complicated than it is. That caveat made, here is what I found:
Michigan's winning percentage since (and including) 1984 when beating ND was 73.8 (note that the ND game itself was excluded from this calculation).
Michigan's winning percentage in the same time period when losing to ND was 70.1 (again, the ND game was excluded).
Michigan's winning percentage in the same period when tying ND was 90.9 (ND game excluded; the teams have only tied once in the past 30 years).
Michigan's winning percentage in the same period when not playing ND was 65.6.
The takeaways from this:
1. As noted, the outcome of the ND game has told us very little about how Michigan would do during the rest of the season - with one exception (see No. 3). So let's not get too carried away by what happens.
2. Michigan should probably play ND every year. Whether those scaredy cats (this is a medical term) will agree to this again remains to be seen.
3. Michigan should at all times try to tie ND. I don't care if you say that's impossible or point to sample size. This is science, damn you.