Perusing the news feeds throughout the week, I couldn’t help but notice the over abundance of items talking about the renewed rivalry of Notre Dame and Michigan. That rivalry is one built with years of contests and traditions. But most of the articles talked about how it was renewed. How? They play each other every year. Is this because Notre Dame is ranked and looking for a BCS run? Usually the shoe is on the other foot with Michigan pushing through the Big 10 and gunning for BCS. So why is it getting so much press this week? It’s very simple. Because college football needs this rivalry.
College football is what it is today because of schools playing each other every year for over 50 years. The tradition of going against a familiar foe and claiming bragging rights for your school is why college football draws the bank that it does. So when Notre Dame and Michigan suit up today for the 37th time, remember that they first played each other in 1887. That’s about 122 years ago. So when they trot on that field today, they carry on their shoulders a history of competition older than Brent Musberger. This is the linchpin of college football.
Of course, we would be remiss to mention that there really isn’t any other big games going on this week. Most rivarly games are played another week. For the ranked teams, the only marquee match up is USC heading to the horse shoe and playing Ohio State. So the pick of teams to talk about this week is pretty weak. Especially because of the big games from last week. There were Top 20 upsets and down to the wire games for BCS contenders last week. This week seems pretty lame comparatively..
But college football needs these two teams. We were lucky enough that it is quiet enough to hear about the Wolverines and the Fighting Irish. For the Wolves, they need to get better fast. The Big 10 needs them to be elite much more than college football. Nowadays, people talk about how weak the Big 10 is. Sure they have Ohio State and sometimes Penn State, but without Michigan and their tradition (the winningest team in history) people will always scoff at the Big 10 and turn their noses at them. As for the Irish, it’s been years since they even mattered. There’s no patience up in South Bend. Just look at Ty Willingham. So the vaunted Charlie Weiss led Notre Dame Fighting Irish need to manufacture a BCS trip or face falling back in mediocrity. It’s been way too long for them. They even set up a cupcake schedule because they know they’ll make it on name alone.
That’s where we are at today. In a couple hours, the whole nation will watch an 18th ranked team travel to an unranked team’s home and play football. Usually in a bigger week with tougher matchups, this game would be overlooked. Usually teams with higher rankings would get the national rub and this one would be pushed to regional action. But this is Notre Dame. This is Michigan. This is a history rich in competition. This is college football. We’re lucky enough to see it.