To get a better idea of why this clash of titans began to lose its luster, let's revisit its pinnacle which IMO was the 1992 game, which ultimately ended in a tie that year. Leading up to that year, from 1988-92, Michigan finished in the top-10 every year and Notre Dame only missed it once in 1991.
After those five golden years for both schools, lots of interesting changes happened to the college football landscape and to the schools' ability to adapt to those changes. The number of other independents Notre Dame could regularly challenge dwindled dramatically. 1992 was the year the transition to 85 scholarships officially started. Wisconsin had a program-changing season in 1993 and officially declared an end to the Big Two Little Eight. Penn State compounded that that same year by joining our league for football. Not to mention Lou Holtz, a guy with a higher winning percentage than Carr, had to step down due to an inability to recruit to his option scheme anymore.
While Michigan handled the storm way better than Notre Dame did from 1997-2004 (Michigan had four top-10 finishes in the AP Poll to Notre Dame's zero), ultimately the combination of Ohio State's in-state recruiting dominance, the newer incarnation of the spread offense exploding and Carr's retirement ultimately made us succumb mediocrity ourselves. From 2005-present the programs have just two apiece (Michigan was barely top-10 in 2006 and 2016, Notre Dame was in 2005 and 2012).
So as we look to the future for this home-and-home revival of the series with ND, my question to you guys is will we and should we hope that BOTH programs return to their heyday to recapture that magical time from 1988-92? My personal answer is yes and yes. The pride and passion of these bluebloods is too immeasurable expect otherwise.
As much as we hate them, a lot of that our hostility towards them is bred from familiarity. I've come to terms with the fact that when my program sees ND across from them it's like looking in the mirror a bit. Whether it be the link of proteges by Woody Hayes to Ara and Bo, us sharing the sport of football as the origins to their program, their stadium being modeled after the Big House or the snobbish arrogance of our universities giving way to the aura of integrity (albeit not always upheld by both), we essentially are cut from the same cloth. And while we both may not always need each other, college football is always gonna need us to be together.
So as we begin our seemingly endless banter and trolling of one another Saturday, let's go forth and thrash them a bit more thankful that we have in a foil to our program we can actually relate to in ways those redneck Buckeyes and sex crazed Spartans can never hope to be