This year marks the return of one of the most historic rivalries in all of college football after a four-year hiatus. So before we get into the big game coming up, let’s take a step back and look at some of the most memorable games in this series’ history.
2011: Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31 – This game will be memorable for many reasons well into the future. For starters, this was the first night game played in the history of Michigan Stadium. Throw in the throwback uniforms and the crazy comeback from Michigan, and you have an instant classic. Trailing 24-7 entering the fourth quarter, Michigan scored a go-ahead touchdown with 1:12 remaining to go up 28-24 on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Denard Robinson to Vincent Smith. Notre Dame answered quickly with a 29-yard touchdown toss from Tommy Rees to Theo Riddick with just 42 seconds remaining to go up 31-28. The game didn’t end there however as Michigan went on a drive for the ages. Starting on their own 20, a 64-yard pass to Gallon got them into range for a game-tying field goal, but with less than 10 seconds remaining, Robinson went for it all, and Roy Roundtree came down with the jump ball in the end zone to seal the comeback.
1989- Notre Dame 24, Michigan 19– This is the last time these teams have played when ranked 1-2 in the nation. Notre Dame came in as the defending National Champs and ranked number one in the country, while Michigan came in ranked number two. The defining moments of this game came courtesy of Rocket Ismail, who returned not one but two kickoffs for touchdowns in a close battle to edge out the Wolverines. This would also represent the last time Bo Schembechler would coach a game against Notre Dame.
1990- Notre Dame 28, Michigan 24- This game was notable for a pair of debuts, as well as another matchup between two highly ranked team. In his debut for the number one ranked Irish, Quarterback Rick Mirer started off his career on the perfect note. He led Notre Dame from a 10-point deficit, in which the rally was finished with a game-winning Adrian Jarrell touchdown with 1:14 remaining. This spoiled the other notable debut in this game as this was the game that Gary Mueller coached in his first game for Michigan, in which Michigan was ranked at number four to begin the campaign. This game also marked the fourth victory in a row for the Irish over the Wolverines, the longest such streak in the series.
2009- Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34– In a season full of forgettable games for each team, this was not one of those games. Trailing 31-20 in the fourth, Notre Dame scored a pair of touchdowns courtesy of Armando Allen and Golden Tate to take a 34-31 lead with 5:31 remaining. Of course, this back-and-forth affair didn’t stop there. After trading punts, Tate Forcier led a game-winning drive in which he capped with a five-yard touchdown toss to Greg Matthews for the difference with 11 seconds to go.
1991- Michigan 24, Notre Dame 14– This game is memorable for the launching of Desmond Howard’s Heisman campaign. In a close 17-14 game in the fourth quarter, Michigan decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Notre Dame 25-yard line. They didn’t play it safe on that play either, as Elvis Grbac launched a pass into the end zone, and Howard outraced two defenders and made a diving catch in the end zone to make it a two-score game in favor of Michigan. This also marked the first time in five years that Michigan beat the Irish, as they snapped a four-game losing streak against Notre Dame.
Hopefully, after this weekend, there are plenty more memorable moments to look back on in this historic series, preferably moments resulting in a Michigan win.