Five Wide Fullbacks: The Rivalry Edition

Rivals don't shake hands--rivals got to hug. - Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Rivals? No sir, just a not-so-friendly match-up between neighbors. Competitive neighbors. Neighbors who might just have a little history.

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There is a little known match-up going on this weekend north of the border. No, not in Canada-the Indiana-Michigan state line-against a team that sports some yellow and darkish indigo colored unis. Eric could probably break those down for us, but who has the time?

On to the questions-where the points are made up and everything matters.

~~~

1. Much has been said about Notre Dame-Michigan leading up to this game. What are your thoughts on this "rivalry"?

After much deliberation, I think I tend to agree with Brian Kelly on this one. Notre Dame-Michigan gets a lot of attention for mainly two reasons: (a) the history and notoriety associated with both programs, and (b) the timing of the game.

While (a) needs no further explanation, I will focus on (b) just a bit more. If you want a bit more on the first part, check out FDM's series this week.

For a long time when the "rivalry" was reignited, Notre Dame and Michigan faced off to open up the season. While other programs were busy pasting (frosting?) cupcakes on their schedule, the ND-Mich game was the marquee match-up of the opening weekend.

Just look at this weekend's matchups--there aren't many games worth watching outside of ND-Mich on a national level. The only ones I would consider giving my time to watching are Florida-Miami and Georgia-South Carolina.

To put it another way, imagine this: if Notre Dame and Michigan played in say mid-October, would it get the same attention nationally? I really don't think so.

There have been a lot of great games between these two programs in recent memory, but that does not a rivalry make.

~~~

2. ESPN "personalities" Mark May and Skip Bayless took a little heat (though they unlikely felt it) for commenting about "growing up watching ND-Michigan." What are some of your better memories about this match-up?

Well, unlike Mr. May and Mr. Bayless, I actually did grow up watching these two teams play. On Saturday, the two programs meet for the 41st time, and only 12 of those came prior to my arrival. And they say we aren't all deluded maniacs! The four letter network is really letting the inmates run the asylum now, eh?

I only witnessed one of these games in person (2003). I won't say anything else about that experience.

The one memory that really sticks with me-likely because it is one of my earliest ND football memories-is the '89 game.

#1 Notre Dame vs. #2 Michigan - 1989 (via RocketShark)


Mostly because of this:

1st Rocket Ismail Kickoff Return, '89 ND/UM (via Scott Shookhoff)


And this:

2nd Rocket Ismail Kickoff Return, '89 ND/UM (via Scott Shookhoff)


I recall watching this game with my dad, and ND was in a tight game late. After the first TD return, he was sure that they wouldn't kick the ball anywhere near Rocket again. They did (as I had hoped). And the rest, as they say, is history.

~~~

3. Who had the most impressive performance in college football during Week 1?

The popular answer to this question is QB Jameis Winston from Florida State. His performance was very impressive, albeit against a dreadful Pitt secondary.

My answer to this one has to be the Indiana Hoosiers.

WHAT?!?

That is right-IU. They put up a school record 73(!) points in their opener against Indiana State.

Head Coach Kevin Wilson enters his 3rd season at the helm and finally has his guys and his system installed. The former Oklahoma and Northwestern OC appears to be headed in the right direction and has the benefit of 8 home games this year with road trips to Madison, East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Columbus.

Call me crazy, but I see 7 wins for the Hoosiers this year including winning a game (or two) they probably shouldn't.

If that comes to fruition, Wilson could be one of the hotter names in coaching when the carousel fires up at season's end.

~~~

4. After last week's 28-6 victory over Temple, there has been much wailing and teeth gnashing by Notre Dame fans on the interwebs. Are you having a change of heart on preseason predictions?

No, and here is why:

a. The game plan going in was pretty basic. I will refrain the use of the term "vanilla," as vanilla gets a bad rap. It is a great flavor that simply plays well with others, including Miracle Whip*. The coaching staff treated the game accordingly, and the team put away the opposition early, despite any drama that the announcers tried to inject into this game. Mayock was discussing the US-freaking-Open at one point. During a football game.

2. A win is a win is a win. It doesn't matter how ugly, I will take them any way they come. Especially when they come at home, injury free while getting several key freshman some important reps.

If you disagree, please go discuss this with our friend Davie Weisingham.

III. Brian Kelly's teams have a tendency to improve drastically over the course of the season. This has been true through the first 3 seasons, and I continue to expect the same moving forward. Keep the perfect/near perfect games for when you need them.

I think when November rolls around we will all have a good laugh about how everyone was worried after the Temple game.

*Note: this cannot be confirmed nor denied. I personally am not a big fan of mayonnaise/salad dressing/Miracle Whip or their ilk.

~~~

5. What are your predictions for Saturday night's game?

Please respond in the form of a haiku.

A word or two before the haiku-strange things happen in Ann Arbor. I think it has to do with the high density of democrats. Anything can (and has) happened when these two teams meet. As far as predictions go, here is mine:

Rees' Red Zone touchdowns

FORAGING, MAULING defense

Irish victory

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