Smackdown -- Michigan v. Notre Dame
Why Michigan's nightmare season will continue
By John EverettThe two most successful programs in college football history, Notre Dame and Michigan have traded places atop the all-time winning percentage list for years now, so we Notre Dame fans have every reason to be joyful at the Wolverines' 0-2 start.
Except for one thing -- we're also 0-2.
That will change this Saturday in Ann Arbor, I guarantee it. Why should you believe me instead of Mike Hart? I've got two good reasons -- the first is unrepentant homerism and the second is flawless logic.
One point in Notre Dame's favor is that the game is on the road. Seems counterintuitive until you realize the Wolverines are 0-2 at home this year, including a loss (I just can't resist mentioning it) to Appalachian State. While the Fighting Irish get to escape whatever negativity may be surrounding South Bend, Michigan gets to soak in the bad feelings and fan grumbling for another week.
There is also the fact that, quite literally, Jimmy Clausen has infinitely more starting experience than Ryan Mallett, who is taking the place of the injured Chad Henne. Clausen -- at the very least -- has been preparing for his starting role since the spring, with only surgery on his elbow keeping him from assuming it until the Penn State game. Mallett, though nearly as highly touted as Clausen, has not been groomed to start so soon.
Also working in the Irish's favor is the fact that most of its players are young and inexperienced, and therefore improvement should be expected on a week-to-week basis. The offensive line has struggled mightily, mainly because there are three new starters and they have not had time to gel as unit. The key here is that the line, as well as the rest of the Irish, are playing with an eye towards pleasing the coaches and earning playing time in seasons to come.
Michigan, on the other hand, is more senior-laden, making their early-season struggles more bizarre and disheartening. Pre-season expectations may be working against the Champions of the West. Henne, Hart, and lineman Jake Long entered their senior campaigns with a No. 5 ranking and national championship dreams. The possibility of living up to those expectations is gone, and a lack of motivation could be a factor.
Notre Dame's players also have the comfort of being sure that their coach will be with them next year, whereas the Michigan players could be excused for thinking their future coach - Les Miles -- is currently prepping for Middle Tennessee State.
The first time Notre Dame beat Michigan, in 1909, Fielding Yost, the Michigan head coach, cancelled the rematch planned for the next season and refused to schedule Notre Dame ever again. After the second time Notre Dame beat Michigan, in 1943, Fritz Crisler followed in Yost's footprints and also boycotted the Irish.
Luckily, Michigan is under contract to play Notre Dame every year until at least 2031, so no matter how embarrassed Lloyd Carr and Michigan will be after they lose to Notre Dame in the Big House this Saturday, the series will be spared from any maize-bellied acts of cowardice.
John Everett is a junior at Notre Dame
Why Notre Dame sucks more than us
By Scott BellNotre Dame fans are completely right: We suck.
We lost to Appalachian State, we were destroyed by Oregon and we dropped both of the games in front of our fans at the Big House.
We lost our starting quarterback to injury, and true freshman Ryan Mallett bordered the competency line in Chad Henne's relief.
We made Armanti Edwards look like Troy Smith and Dennis Dixon look like Vince Young - just the latest in our long list of embarrassing performances against mobile quarterbacks.
We started the year as a legitimate National Championship contender and morphed into the nation's laughingstock almost overnight. Seriously, give us the best you've got. We deserve it.
But once you stop kicking our team while it's down, take a look in the mirror.
We don't accept mediocrity. You, on the other hand, seem to embrace it, as long as others are struggling, too.You lost to us on your home field last season, 47-21. Why am I not hearing about this heading into the game? Was it a fluke? Well, those 47 points could have been a lot more. We jumped out to a 34-7 lead in the first half, and coasted from then on out.
But don't worry, we lost all of our weapons from last year, right?
Well, think what you want, just don't tell that to Mike Hart, Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington. Speaking of Hart, he's still pretty good. I'm not sure if this traveled down to South Bend yet, but he's pretty confident Michigan will prevail this weekend:
"We're going to win next week," Hart said last Saturday. "There's not a question in my mind. I guarantee we win next week. I'm going to get this team ready."
Bold? Yes. Truthful? More than likely.
Hart has earned the right to talk. His 300 yards and three touchdowns this season has been a bright spot for the disappointing Wolverines.How's your running game? Well, Notre Dame has negative eight yards rushing on the season. That's bad news on paper, but when you look deeper, maybe it's just an attempt to make people stop focusing on Notre Dame's zero bowl wins in the past 14 years.
Genius plan, I love it. It must be from the brain of that mastermind Charlie Weis. Now bare with me, I'm not calling you Irish fans liars or anything, but I'm just a tad bit confused. I hear all this stuff about Weis being so smart, but how come when I search through Notre Dame's offensive stats, the Irish are the worst offensive team in the nation?
Anyways, enough questions. I'm probably just confused. Michigan has to lose, right? We're not very good. Again, I can't refute that - we're really not that good.
I guess I'll just have to take solace in the fact that you're even worse, and that we'll prevail in Pillowfight 2007.
Scott Bell is the Managing Sports Editor and a second-year football for the Michigan Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.