I'm hearing a lot of chatter of late about the (very distinct) possibility that, in a few short years, the grand old Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry may become a relic of the past.
Which, of course, would be a great shame. This game, after all, has proven to be one of the unquestioned highlights of the college football year--a rivalry matching two of the grandest programs in the history of the sport. The games of late have been highly entertaining, too; in fact, it's safe to say that they've been downright thrilling.
So why would such a great game go away?
Well, because here in the modern era of college football, tradition really doesn't matter. Money does. That's why Notre Dame has (kinda-sorta) joined the ACC, a conference that they have no reason to join (except for money). That's why those in the know say that both Michigan and Notre Dame want out of the series; without that game on the schedule, both would have the flexibility (presumably) to line up a guaranteed home game--and pull in all the money that home games can bring.
I mean, it's depressing.
But here's the good news: We still have Notre Dame for now. In fact, we have it this week, and it headlines our Games Worth Watching for college football's Week 4. Onward.
No. 18 Michigan at No. 11 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m., NBC): Last year, Denard Robinson basically had his way with the Fighting Irish, throwing for 338 yards and four touchdowns and running for another 108 yards and a score as the Wolverines stunned the Irish with a remarkable last-minute drive and touchdown. It was one of the games of the year, and Robinson was the unquestioned star. He figures to be again this year. While the Irish have certainly looked better this season, the quality of their competition must be called into question; at the very least, you can say that Michigan has had to line up against the best (i.e., Alabama). That experience should pay off. Look for Michigan to score the upset. Michigan 28, Notre Dame 21
No. 10 Clemson at No. 4 Florida State (8 p.m., ABC): Oh, Clemson. You're on the big stage once more. No program in America is more famous for high-profile flameouts than the Tigers, who always seem to be on the cusp of greatness, but never quite get there. They get another chance to get over the top this week in Tallahassee, where they'll take on a team that drawing plenty of praise of late. There aren't a lot of teams out there that might be able to compete with the Alabamas and LSUs of the world, but this Seminole group is one of them. At home, they'll just be too much for the Tigers to overcome. Florida State 31, Clemson 21
No. 22 Arizona at No. 3 Oregon (10:30 p.m., ESPN): An interesting one here, and a definite candidate for "upset of the week." Michigan, as we know now, was simply too grand a stage for Rich Rodriguez. He wasn't built for such an environment, where tradition hangs overhead and expectations are often completely removed from reality. But Arizona? Well, this seems just about right. With the Wildcats, who have been mostly mediocre over the past couple of decades, Rodriguez will be given the time to implement his system--a system that he never really got up and running in Ann Arbor--and build the program he wants to build. Already, Arizona seems to be benefiting from his tutelage, at least on the offensive side of the ball; this team is putting up some serious points. Of course, the defense is still a work in progress, and that will cost them here, but I fully expect RichRod to do well out in the desert. Seriously. Oregon 45, Arizona 38